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E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump rest their cases in civil rape trial

E. Jean Carroll Donald Trump
Posted at 6:21 PM, May 04, 2023

Attorneys for E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump rested their respective cases in the battery and defamation trial against the former president in Manhattan federal court on Thursday evening.

Carroll, a former magazine columnist, alleges Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then defamed her when he denied her claim, said she wasn't his type and suggested she made up the story to boost sales of her book. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.

While resting his case means Trump legally waived his right to testify in his own defense, District Judge Lewis Kaplan left a window for Trump to change his mind over the weekend.

Kaplan ruled that Trump's legal team as until 5 p.m. Sunday to petition the court to reopen the defense case for the sole purpose of allowing Trump to testify. The judge said he ordered the precautionary measure in light of Trump's public comments made earlier Thursday suggesting he would make an appearance in court before the trial ended.

Trump, who has not appeared in the courtroom at any point during the trial, told reporters in Ireland on Thursday he'll "probably attend" the trial.

"I have to go back for a woman that made a false accusation about me, and I have a judge who is extremely hostile," Trump said in Doonbeg, Ireland, according to Reuters.

"He has a right to testify which has been waived but if he has second thoughts, I'll at least consider it and maybe we'll see what happens," Kaplan told the attorneys.

Trump's attorney Joe Tacopina strongly indicated that the defense team would not make such a motion and Tacopina rested Trump's case without putting on a defense. Tacopina said he spoke with Trump about waiving his right to testify on Thursday morning.

If Trump does not change his mind, the parties are set to give closing arguments to the jury at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Carroll's legal team put on 11 witnesses in her case including the writer herself over seven trial days.

Jury sees Trump denials in video deposition

Earlier Thursday the jury saw more clips of Trump's video-recorded deposition taken last October for this case in which Trump vehemently denies Carroll's rape allegations against him.

"She's accusing me of rape, a woman that I have no idea who she is. It came out of the blue. She's accusing me of rape -- of raping her, the worst thing you can do, the worst charge. And you know it's not true too. You're a political operative also. You're a disgrace. But she's accusing me and so are you of rape, and it never took place," Trump said on video, addressing Carroll's attorney Roberta Kaplan.

Trump stood by his social media posts published in 2019 and 2022 denying Carroll's accusations and confirmed he personally wrote them.

At one point during the deposition, Trump held a well-known black and white photo of himself, E Jean Carroll, her former husband news anchor John Johnson, and Trump's then-wife Ivana.

Trump recognized Johnson and recalled thinking he was good at his television job, but then mistook Carroll for his other ex-wife Marla Maples.

"That's Marla, yeah. That's my wife," he said.

After the attorneys corrected him, Trump said the photo was blurry.

He acknowledged the photo suggests he met Carroll at least once but said it must have been very brief at an event and he does not remember or know her.

"I still don't know this woman. I think she's a whack job. I have no idea. I don't know anything about this woman other than what I read in stories and what I hear. I know nothing about her," the former president said.

"She's a liar and she's a sick person in my opinion, Really sick. Something wrong with her," Trump said during another point in the deposition.

Carroll's attorney asked Trump about his comments regarding Carroll, Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff all not being "his type."

He stood by the statements each time he was asked. At one point he said, "the only different between me and other people is I'm honest."

He also told Carroll's attorney she's not his type. "You wouldn't be a choice of mine either to be honest," Trump said.

He also said he felt like he had a right to insult the women who've accused him falsely.

"I don't want to be insulting but when people accuse me of something I think I have a right to be insulting because they're insulting me," Trump said.

The jury watched Trump view the "Access Hollywood" tape during his deposition. He didn't appear to noticeably react as it was played.

When asked about the tape he said it's already been "fully litigated" and, "it's locker room talk, I don't know, it's just the way people talk."

Second friend says Carroll confided in her about alleged rape

Former local news anchor Carol Martin testified Thursday that she remembers Carroll confiding in her soon after the alleged assault by Trump in the mid-1990s.

Martin testified under direct examination that she didn't remember when exactly it happened, but she knew it was some time while the two were working at the same cable network between 1994 and 1996.

By Martin's account the two friends had finished taping their respective shows and Carroll asked if she could come over Martin's home near the studio. They talked in her kitchen for about an hour, Martin testified, and Carroll was "frenzied."

Carroll's "effect was anxious and excitable, but she can be that way sometimes so that part wasn't as different but what she was saying didn't make any sense at first." The conversation was not linear, Carroll started her account saying, "You won't believe what happened to me the other night," Martin recalled.

"And I didn't know what to expect," Martin said she felt at the time. Carroll repeatedly said, "Trump attacked me," according to Martin.

"I think she said 'he pinned me' and I still didn't know what she meant," Martin testified.

Martin testified that she told Carroll she shouldn't tell anyone her story. "Because it was Donald Trump and he had a lot of attorneys and I thought he would bury her is what I told her," Martin said.

"I have questioned myself more times than not over the years. I am not proud that that's what I told her in truth but she didn't contest," Martin added.

During cross-examination, Tacopina read through a series of messages Martin has sent friends, many to Carroll, speaking negatively about Trump for years since he first ran for the presidency.

Martin testified that as "very liberal feminist women," they frequently discussed politics including their dislike for Trump. "We would often talk about ways to change the climate or work on issues of interest to us," Martin testified.

Tacopina also read the jury several messages Martin sent to friends and family about Carroll's lawsuit against Trump that appeared to criticize Carroll. "She's gonna sue when adult victims of rape law is passed in New York State or something. WTF that's the defamation case and DOJ oversight or something. It's gone to another level and not something I can relate to. For her, sadly, I think this quest has become a lifestyle," Martin wrote in one text.

Martin responded in court that at the time she sent the messages she was dealing with serious matters in her own personal life that affected her feelings toward Carroll's situation. She testified that the texts do not reflect her current feelings.

Expert says up to $2.7 million to repair Carroll's reputation

A marketing expert commissioned by Carroll testified it would take up to $2.7 million to run an effective marketing campaign to repair her reputation just from the damage of Trump's October 12, 2022, comments denying her allegations.

Northwestern University Professor Ashlee Humphreys said that Trump's statement at issue in this trial reached somewhere between 13.7 and 18 million impressions.

Humphreys and a team of researchers evaluated the post first published on Truth Social and how it spread across mediums like other social media platforms, websites and cable and network broadcast television.

In a series of calculations Humphreys said about 21% of the people who viewed the statement in some capacity -- about 3.7 to 5.6 million people -- likely believed Trump. The analysis did not consider the effects of previous statements Trump made about Carroll.

On cross examination Humphreys acknowledged that she did not consider damage done to Trump by Carroll's statements against him.

This story has been updated with additional developments.