There is a reason that former President Trump’s lawyers fight tooth and nail to keep him from having to go under oath. And that reason is Donald J. Trump.
In deposition testimony ordered unsealed Friday by New York federal judge Lewis A. Kaplan, Trump repeated his allegation that he couldn’t have raped advice columnist E. Jean Carroll because “There’s no way I would ever be attracted to her;” alleged that she’d claimed it was “very sexy to be raped;” and promised to sue both Carroll and her lawyer at the conclusion of the proceedings.
After Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room in the mid-90s, he went on the offensive, accusing her of being a liar paid to perpetrate a hoax against him.
“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened,” he told The Hill in June of 2019.
Carroll sued later that year, patiently waiting as Trump ducked process, claimed absolute presidential immunity, and argued that the New York state court lacked jurisdiction over him as a Florida resident. On the eve of discovery, then Attorney General Bill Barr removed the case to federal court under the Westfall Act and attempted to substitute the government as defendant. Last week, after the Second Circuit punted the question to it, the DC Court of Appeals heard argument as to whether Trump was acting within the scope of his official presidential duties under DC law when he implied Carroll was too ugly to rape.
In the meantime, this case has dragged on so long that Donald Trump managed to repeat the same gross allegations about Carroll, only this time as a private citizen — something Carroll’s lawyer Joshua Matz of Kaplan Hecker & Fink pointed out last week to the DC Court, noting that you can hardly claim you were just doing your job as president when you continue to do the exact same thing in civilian life as a braying jackass on a golf cart. Indeed, Trump admitted as much under oath, saying that he made the offensive comments “because I was offended at this woman’s lie,” which is … not a part of his official duties.
The second allegedly defamatory statement, made in October of 2022, is the subject of another defamation suit (Carroll II) filed on Thanksgiving after New York’s Adult Survivors Act came into effect, reviving civil claims by victims of sexual assault whose cases would otherwise be time-barred. In this second suit, Carroll added a battery claim under the ASA and another defamation count for Trump’s recent comments. And it’s because of this suit that we got a look at that deposition from Carroll I.
On December 19, 2022, the parties submitted a joint discovery plan to the court in Carroll II. In support of their argument that the cases could be easily joined without postponing the trial, Carroll’s legal team noted that attorney Roberta Kaplan had already deposed Trump on the subject of his second allegedly defamatory statement, attaching under seal a 34-page chunk of the deposition conducted in October 2022 at Mar-a-Lago.
Carroll moved to unseal the exhibit, which makes Trump look like a very particular kind of garbage man. In response, Trump’s lawyers mumbled some stuff about the protective order guaranteeing Trump’s privacy. But Judge Kaplan disagreed, holding on Friday that “his arguments for doing so are entirely baseless.” And so we are all able to read this insanity for ourselves:
TRUMP: I posted and I will continue to post until such time as — and then I will sue her after this is over, and that’s the thing I really look forward to doing. And I’ll sue you too because this is — how many cases do you have?· Many, many cases, and I know the statements that were made — that you made. Keep Trump busy because this is the way you defeat him, to keep him busy with litigation. So I will be suing you also, but I’ll be suing her very strongly as soon as this case ends. But I’ll be suing you also.
KAPLAN: Are you done?
Trump is currently suing Twitter, Meta, YouTube, CNN, New York Attorney Letitia James, the Pulitzer Board, plus Hillary Clinton, James Comey, and half of DC. But tell us more about how Roberta Kaplan is a serial litigant!
Trump was similarly asked about an interview Carroll gave to Anderson Cooper, which Trump’s minions edited to make it look like Carroll said rape was “sexy” and only changed her story after Anderson Cooper rushed to a commercial break.
TRUMP: She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay? She loved it until commercial break. In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she?· She said it was very sexy to be raped. Didn’t she say that? ·
KAPLAN: So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?
TRUMP: Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place. And we can define that. You’ll have to show that. I’m sure you’re going to show that. But she was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, and I think she said that rape was sexy — which it’s not, by the way. But I think she said that rape was sexy, and it was — she actually said things that were very strange.
In reality, Carroll was making a nuanced point about why she didn’t characterize the event as a “rape” in her own mind for many years. She talked about common beliefs that women fantasize about being raped, and contrasted her own experience with that of women who sought her advice after being brutally attacked. She characterized it as “a fight,” because she did manage to successfully fight him off, and then tried to use humor as a coping mechanism.
“I thought [people would say], A, my fault. B, I was stupid. C, I didn’t think of it as the word you’re using,” Carroll said, explaining her decision not to come forward. “I didn’t think of it as rape. I thought of it as a violent incident. I thought of it as a fight. And I’ll tell you how stupid — I thought I won because I got out.”
But in her lawsuit she claims that the attack scarred her, and that afterwards her “light went out” and she was never able to have another sexual relationship. None of which appears to have wound up in the clip Trump posted online, although he insists it was only edited for time because “there’s never been a seven-minute commercial.”
Along the way, Kaplan managed to ask Trump about various other things he characterized as a hoax, including “Russia, Russia, Russia,” his “perfect” call to extort the president of Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden, “the Mueller thing,” the “FISA court hoax, the “lying to Congress many times hoax by all these people, the scum that we have in our country,” the “spying on my campaign hoax,” “mail-in ballots, very dishonest,” and global warming.
And Trump managed to be extremely weird and gross about the rape allegations which he describes as “swooning.”
KAPLAN: You say “she completely made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City department store and within minutes swooned her.” Do you see that?
KAPLAN: What does “swooned her” mean?
TRUMP: That would be a word, maybe accurate or not, having do with talking to her and talking her — to do an act that she said happened, which didn’t happen. And it’s a nicer word than the word that starts with an F, and this would be a word that I used because I thought it would be inappropriate to use the other word. And it didn’t happen.
In point of fact, the word isn’t “fucked.” It’s “raped,” and it starts with an R.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.