Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, November 7, 2022.
Gaelen Morse | Reuters
Editor’s note: This story includes a description of sexual assault.
A federal judge in New York on Friday rejected an effort by lawyers for former President Donald Trump to keep sealed a portion of the transcript of his deposition in a lawsuit by a writer who accuses him of raping her in the mid-1990s.
Trump’s arguments for keeping sealed the nearly three dozen pages of his Oct. 19 deposition “are entirely baseless,” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his order in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
That deposition showed Trump making repeated insulting comments about the writer who is suing him, E. Jean Carroll, her lawyer, and President Joe Biden, as well as grousing about what he called a series of “hoaxes” involving allegedly false claims made about him.
Trump, who denies raping Carroll or ever having sex with her at all falsely said that Carroll, in an interview about her claim of being raped by him, had indicated that “she loved it.”
“She said it was very sexy to be raped,” Trump testified, misstating what Carroll had actually said.
Trump has been accused by multiple women of sexual misconduct — he denies each claim — and bragged in a 2005 recording of the show “Access Hollywood” about grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without their consent.
During questioning by Carroll’s lawyers, 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.
Asked whether he had ever touched a woman on her breast, buttocks or any other sexual part without her consent, Trump answered, “Well, I will tell you not, but you may have some people like your client that lie.”
The deposition was conducted at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, in connection with the first defamation lawsuit that Carroll filed against him in 2019.
Trump’s testimony under oath, was given a week after he issued a social media post that was cited in a second defamation lawsuit Carroll filed against him in November.
Earlier Friday, Kaplan denied Trump’s bid to toss out the most recent of two lawsuits filed by Carroll, who says Trump raped her in a dressing room in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan more than two decades ago.
In his unsealing order, Kaplan said that Trump had no right to confidentiality for his testimony when he gave it. The judge noted that there is a presumptive right held by the public to court documents.
The judge added that contrary to Trump’s argument, the portion of his transcript that was redacted in the public filing by Carroll’s lawyers “was directly relevant” to a disagreement between the parties over whether additional discovery should be conducted for her second lawsuit.
Discovery is the legal process in which parties in a lawsuit exchange evidence and take testimony from witnesses in preparation for trial, or a settlement.
Kaplan first ordered the deposition transcript unsealed on Monday. But he then reversed his order after Trump’s lawyers asked him for three days to file arguments opposing the unsealing.
Trump, while serving as president, publicly accused Carroll of making up the rape allegation, saying she was motivated by politics and a desire to sell a book containing her claims.
Carroll then sued him for defamation.
She sued him again in November when he made what she says were other defamatory statements about her in a social media post that Trump wrote in October.
Her second lawsuit also alleges battery, a claim that was allowed under a new New York state law that allows adults a one-year grace period to file lawsuits alleging sexual abuse that occurred outside of the time frame normally allowed by the statute of limitations.
Trial in the cases has been set for April.
Trump in his testimony flatly and repeatedly denied Carroll’s claim that he raped her.
“It’s a false accusation,” Trump said. “Never happened, never would happen.”
“I will sue her after this is over, and that’s the thing I really look forward to doing,” Trump told Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge.
“And I’ll sue you too,” he added toward Kaplan.
During the deposition, Trump fumed about Kaplan, who in addition to representing Carroll represents his niece, Mary Trump, in a lawsuit alleging that the former president and his siblings swindled Mary out of a share of the family’s wealth.
“How many cases do you have?” Trump asked Kaplan. “Many, many cases, and I know the statements … that you made. Keep Trump busy because this is the way you defeat him, to keep him busy with litigation.”
Trump during the deposition was asked about the Oct. 12 post he made on his social media site, which refers to the “Ms. Bergdorf Goodman case,” calling it “a complete con job.”
The post referenced a June 2019 interview Carroll gave CNN’s Anderson Cooper that described her account of the alleged sexual assault. She said it occurred after a chance meeting with Trump while she was shopping, and he allegedly asked her for help buying a present “for a girl.”
“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,” Trump had written, Kaplan noted in her questioning.
Trump in his deposition confirmed Kaplan had read that, and the rest of the post accurately, saying, “Great statement, yeah. True. True.”
“I wrote it all myself,” he added.
Asked if he had talked to anyone about what to say in his post, Trump replied, “No, I didn’t need to. I’m not Joe Biden.”
Trump called Carroll a “wack job” during his deposition.
“I think she’s sick, mentally sick,” he said.
Kaplan then asked him about his use of the word “swooned,” which she called “a strange word.”
“What does ‘swooned her’ mean?” the attorney asked.
Trump replied, “That would be a word, maybe accurate or not, having to 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,” Trump said. “And it didn’t happen.”
When Kaplan said that the dictionary defined “swooned” as “to faint with extreme emotion,” Trump replied, “Well, sort of that’s what she said I did to her.”
“She fainted with great emotion,” Trump said. “She actually indicated that she loved it. OK?,” he said, referring to Carroll’s CNN interview.
“She loved it until commercial break,” Trump said. “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 then asked if Trump was testifying that Carroll “said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you.”
Trump answered: “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.”
He added, “But I think she said that rape was sexy.”
In fact, Carroll had said in that interview that she believed “most people” thought of rape as “sexy.” She did not say she believed that herself.
In that interview, Carroll said she was “panicked” when Trump shut the door of the dressing room and pushed her against a wall and began kissing her before pulling down her tights.
“And it was against my will. And it hurt. And it was a fight,” Carroll said in the interview.
She later said in the same interview, “I was not thrown on the ground and ravished. Which the word ‘rape’ carries so many sexual connotations.”
“This was not — this was not sexual. It just hurt,” Carroll said.
Cooper responded, “I think most people think of rape as … a violent assault.”
Carroll then said, “I think most people think of rape as being sexy … they think of the fantasies.”
When her lawyer Kaplan asked Trump if it was not true that Carroll had said it was a view of many other people about rape being sexy, he said, “Oh, I don’t know … All I know is, I believe she said rape is sexy or something to that effect, but you’ll have to watch the interview. It’s been a while.”
Trump later in the deposition noted that in his social media post he made what he called the “not politically correct statement” about Carroll.
“She’s not my type,” Trump told Kaplan. “She is not a woman I would ever be attracted to,” he added later.
“She’s accusing me of rape, a woman I have no idea who she is,” Trump said. “The worst thing you can do, the worst charge.”
“And you know it’s not true too,” he told Kaplan. “You’re a political operative too. You’re a disgrace.”
He later suggested that Kaplan had some kind of influence with the judge in the case to get him to grant her permission to depose him for the lawsuit. It is standard in lawsuits for attorneys to depose the parties in a case.
“I knew that we’d be wasting a day doing this, a whole day doing this,” Trump said. “You’ve got to be connected to get this kind of time. But a whole day of doing this stuff on something that never happened.”
Kaplan noted that Trump had said in his social media post that Carroll’s allegation was “a hoax and a lie, just like all the other hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years.”
When the lawyer asked if he meant Carroll had fabricated her claim, Trump said, “Totally, 100 percent.” He admitted that he used the term “hoax” a lot.
“I’ve had a lot of hoaxes played on me. This is one of them,” Trump said.
Asked what some of those were, Trump said, “The Russia Russia Russia hoax … Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine hoax.”
He pointed to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential connections between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia.
Trump also said the use of mail ballots during the 2020 election, which he lost to Biden, was a hoax.
“I think they’re very dishonest. Mail-in ballots, very dishonest,” Trump said.
Asked by Kaplan if he had himself voted by mail, Trump answered over the objections of his own lawyer, Alina Habba.
“I do. I do,” Trump said. “Sometimes I do. But I don’t know what happens to it once you give it. I have no idea.”