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Then-President Donald Trump leaves the East Room of the White House
Then-President Donald Trump leaves the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 6, 2017. Brendan Smialowksi / AFP via Getty Images file

Trump’s deposition in Carroll case clearly does him no favors

We now know what Donald Trump said in his deposition in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case. If the Republican thinks it went well, he's mistaken.


It’s tough to predict what Donald Trump might say when he sits down for a deposition. In October 2021, for example, the former president insisted under oath that people “can be killed” by protestors who throw “very dangerous” fruit.

About a year later, the Republican sat down for another deposition in a very different kind of case, and the result wasn’t nearly as amusing. The Washington Post reported:

Donald Trump used a sworn deposition in a case brought by his sexual assault accuser E. Jean Carroll to continue calling her a liar and to claim she is mentally ill — denying that he sexually assaulted her even as he falsely claimed Carroll said in a CNN interview that she enjoyed being raped.

For those who might need a refresher on the underlying controversy, Carroll spent years as a prominent writer, media figure, and advice columnist, including having hosted a show on America’s Talking, which later became MSNBC (my employer). In June 2020, she also joined a long list of women who’ve accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

Carroll described an alleged encounter in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, which the writer described as a violent sexual assault committed by the future president. Though definitively proving or disproving Carroll’s claim is difficult, the writer said she confided in two friends shortly after the alleged incident, telling them at the time what she said occurred. Soon after, those friends came forward with on-the-record accounts. Carroll also sought DNA testing of the dress she says she wore during the alleged incident.

The former president denied the claim, arguing, among other things, that Carroll is a “liar” who isn’t his “type.” She ultimately sued Trump for defamation, and though the Republican tried to get out of it, he had to answer questions under oath last fall as part of the case.

It wasn’t until Friday that the public learned what he said after a federal judge unsealed parts of a transcript of Trump’s deposition.

Not surprisingly, the Republican reiterated his denial, calling the allegations a “hoax,” and deriding his accuser as a “nut job” and someone who’s “mentally sick.”

But he also focused on an interview Carroll did with CNN in 2019, in which she said she’s avoiding using the word “rape” to describe the alleged incited because, Carroll put it, the word “has so many sexual connotations” and is a “fantasy” for many.

“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” she said at the time, adding that she instead thinks of the alleged attack involving Trump as a “fight.” As the Post’s report added, Trump cited the interview in telling Carroll’s attorney that the plaintiff “loved” sexual assault.

“She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay?” Trump said in the deposition. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.” [Carroll attorney Roberta Kaplan] then asked: “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?” And Trump answered: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”

In the same proceedings, the former president was asked whether he'd ever touched a woman’s intimate parts without consent. Trump’s lawyer objected, though the Republican nevertheless responded, “Well, I will tell you no, but you may have some people like your client that lie.”

The case is expected to go to trial in April. Watch this space.