Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally in support of Republican candidates ahead of the midterm elections November 7, 2022 in Dayton, Ohio.
Gaelen Morse | Reuters
Editor’s Note: This story contains a description of sexual assault.
A federal judge in New York on Friday dismissed an attempt by attorneys for former President Donald Trump to seal part of the transcript of his testimony in a lawsuit filed by a writer accusing him of raping her in the mid-1990s.
Trump’s arguments to keep the nearly three dozen pages of his Oct. 19 testimony under wraps “are utterly baseless,” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his order in the US District Court in Manhattan.
That statement showed Trump repeatedly making offensive comments about the writer who is suing him, E. Jean Carroll, her attorney and President Joe Biden, as well as complaining about a series of “hoaxes” allegedly containing false claims about him.
Trump, who denies raping Carroll or ever having sex with her, wrongly said that in an interview about her claims that he had raped him, Carroll stated that “she loved it.”
“She said it was very sexy to be raped,” Trump testified, misrepresenting what Carroll actually said.
Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by several women — he denies any allegation — and in a 2005 taping of the show Access Hollywood boasted of grabbing women by the genitals and kissing them without their consent.
During questioning by Carroll’s attorneys, Trump denied ever kissing a woman without her consent.
“I can’t think of any complaints. But no, I mean, I don’t think so,” he said.
When asked if he had ever touched a woman’s breasts, buttocks, or any other sexual part without her consent, Trump replied, “Well, I’m not going to tell you, but you might have some people like your client, the lies.”
The deposition was conducted at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., in connection with the first defamation lawsuit Carroll filed against him in 2019.
Trump’s testimony under oath came a week after the publication of a social media post cited in a second defamation lawsuit Carroll filed against him in November.
Earlier Friday, Kaplan declined Trump’s offer to dismiss the latest of two lawsuits brought by Carroll, who says Trump raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan more than two decades ago.
In his unsealing order, Kaplan said Trump had no right to confidentiality of his testimony as he made it. The judge found that the public has a presumed right to court documents.
The judge added that contrary to Trump’s argument, the portion of his transcript that was redacted in the public file by Carroll’s attorneys was “directly relevant” to a disagreement between the parties over whether additional investigations should be conducted for their second lawsuit.
Discovery is the legal process by which parties in a litigation exchange evidence and gather testimony in preparation for a trial or settlement.
Kaplan ordered the record of deposit unsealed for the first time Monday. But then he rescinded his order after Trump’s lawyers asked him for three days to present arguments against the unsealing.
During his tenure as president, Trump publicly accused Carroll of fabricating the rape allegation, saying she was politically motivated and had a desire to sell a book detailing her claims.
Carroll then sued him for defamation.
She sued him again in November after he made further defamatory statements about her in a social media post Trump wrote in October.
Her second lawsuit also alleges battery, a claim that was allowable under a new New York state law that gives adults a one-year grace period to file claims alleging sexual abuse that occurred outside of the time frame normally permitted by the statute of limitations.
The trial in the cases has been set for April.
In his testimony, Trump flatly denied and reiterated Carroll’s claim that he raped her.
“This is a false accusation,” Trump said. “That never happened, would never happen.”
“I’m going to sue them after this is over and I’m really looking forward to that,” Trump told Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge.
“And I’m going to sue you, too,” he added to Kaplan.
During the testimony, Trump fumed at Kaplan, who is not only representing Carroll but is also representing his niece, Mary Trump, in a court case alleging the former president and his siblings cheated Mary out of a share of the family fortune.
“How many cases do you have?” Trump asked Kaplan. “Many, many cases, and I know the statements … that you have made. Keep Trump on his toes because that’s how you defeat him to keep him busy with litigation.”
Trump was asked during testimony about the Oct. 12 post he published on his social media page referring to the “Ms. Bergdorf Goodman case” and calling it “a complete fraud.”
The post referenced an interview CNN’s Carroll Anderson Cooper gave in June 2019, in which she described her account of the alleged sexual assault. She said it happened after a chance meeting with Trump while shopping, and he allegedly asked her for help buying a present “for a girl.”
“She made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City department store and ‘fainted’ her within minutes,” Trump wrote, Kaplan noted in her interview.
Trump confirmed in his statement that Kaplan read that and the rest of the post carefully, saying, “Great statement, yes. True. True.”
“I wrote everything myself,” he added.
When asked if he had spoken to anyone about what to say in his post, Trump replied, “No, I didn’t have to. I’m not Joe Biden.”
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Trump called Carroll a “wack job” during his testimony.
“I think she’s sick, insane,” he said.
Kaplan then asked him about his use of the word “passed out,” which she called “a strange word.”
“What does ‘make her faint’ mean?” asked the lawyer.
Trump replied, “That would be a word, perhaps applicable or not, that has to do with speaking to her and speaking to her — doing an act that she said happened, which didn’t happen.”
“And it’s a prettier word than the word that starts with an F, and that would be a word I used because I thought it was inappropriate to use the other word,” Trump said. “And it didn’t happen.”
When Kaplan said the dictionary defined “faint” as “fainting from extreme emotion,” Trump replied, “Well, that’s kind of what she said I did to her.”
“She passed out from great excitement,” Trump said. “She actually indicated she loves it. OK?” he said, referring to Carroll’s CNN interview.
“She loved it until the commercial break,” Trump said. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said that being raped is very sexy. Didn’t she say that?”
Kaplan then asked if Trump testified that Carroll “said she loved being sexually assaulted by you.”
Trump replied: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what happened. And we can define that. You have to show that. I am sure you will show that. But she was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, and I think she said rape was sexy — which, by the way, it’s not.”
He added, “But I think she said rape is sexy.”
In fact, Carroll had said in that interview that she believed “most people” found rape “sexy.” She didn’t say she believed that herself.
In that interview, Carroll said she “paniced” when Trump closed the dressing room door and pinned her against a wall and started kissing her before pulling down her pantyhose.
“And it was against my will. And it hurt. And it was a struggle,” Carroll said in an interview.
She later said in the same interview: “I wasn’t thrown on the ground and violated. Whereas the word ‘rape’ has so many sexual connotations.”
“It wasn’t – it wasn’t sexual. It just hurt,” Carroll said.
Cooper replied, “I think most people think of rape as … a violent attack.”
Carroll then said, “I think most people think rape is sexy … they think about the fantasies.”
When her attorney, Kaplan Trump, asked if it wasn’t true that Carroll said it was a view of many other people that rape was sexy, he said, “Oh, I don’t know…I just know that I believe her said.” Rape is sexy or something like that, but you have to watch the interview. It’s been a while.”
Trump later noted in the affidavit that he made what he called an “not politically correct statement” about Carroll in his social media post.
“She’s not my type,” Trump told Kaplan. “She’s not a woman I would ever be attracted to,” he later added.
“She’s accusing me of raping a woman I have no idea who she is,” Trump said. “Worst thing you can do, worst charge.”
“And you also know it’s not true,” he said to Kaplan. “You are also a political agent. You are a disgrace.”
He later suggested that Kaplan had some sort of leverage with the judge in the case to get him to give her permission to depose him for the lawsuit. In court proceedings, it is common for lawyers to dismiss the parties in a case.
“I knew we were going to waste a day on this, a whole day on this,” Trump said. “You have to be connected to get that much time. But a whole day doing this stuff to something that never happened.”
Kaplan noted that Trump said in his social media post that Carroll’s claim was “a hoax and a lie, just like every other hoax that has been played to me in the last seven years.”
When the attorney asked if he thought Carroll made up her allegation, Trump said, “Totally, 100 percent.” He admitted to using the term “joke” a lot.
“I was played a lot of jokes. This is one of them,” Trump said.
When asked what some of these were, Trump said, “The Russia-Russia-Russia hoax…Ukraine-Ukraine-Ukraine hoax.”
He pointed to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible links between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump also said using mail-in ballots during the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden, was a hoax.
“I think you are very dishonest. Mail-in ballot, very dishonest,” Trump said.
Asked by Kaplan if he himself had voted by mail, Trump answered over objections from his own attorney, Alina Habba.
“I do it. I do,” Trump said. “Sometimes I do. But I don’t know what happens to it when you give it. I have no idea.”