Former US President Donald Trump testified in a deposition shown in court on Wednesday, calling writer E. Jean Carroll’s allegations that he raped her at a Manhattan department store “the most ridiculous, disgusting story” and denying that the assault ever occurred. Lawyers for Carroll played about 30 minutes of excerpts from the deposition, including Trump’s denial of Carroll’s accusation that he attacked her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room.
“If it did happen, it would have been reported within minutes,” Trump said, arguing that shoppers and employees at the busy store would have heard a commotion and alerted authorities. “It’s the most ridiculous, disgusting story. It’s just made up,” he added in the deposition taken in October.
Trump’s attorneys announced that they would not be calling any witnesses, and the judge said that closing arguments would likely happen on Monday before the jury begins deliberations on Tuesday. Trump has not attended the trial and will not testify, giving his deposition more weight.
Carroll is seeking unspecified monetary damages and a retraction of Trump’s statements that she alleges were defamatory. Trump has denied ever knowing Carroll, saying once that “she’s not my type” and arguing that her claims are politically motivated attempts to smear his reputation and deny him the White House.
On Wednesday, jurors also heard from former People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff, who testified through tears that Trump forcibly kissed her against her will while showing her around his Mar-a-Lago estate in 2005 for an article about his first wedding anniversary with his third wife, Melania.
“The horrifying part to me was that I worried because I didn’t say anything at the time, other women were hurt by him so I had to regret,” Stoynoff said. Stoynoff started to cry when asked about her trip to interview the Trumps in Palm Beach, Florida, and how Trump drew her away from staff and a photography crew before cornering her and kissing her. Stoynoff tried to push Trump away, but he persisted until a butler came into the room to report that Melania was ready for the next phase of the interview.
The trial also featured another woman, former stockbroker Jessica Leeds, who testified that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt on a late-1970s airline flight. Carroll kept her claims against Trump for 17 years before going public with the allegations in a 2019 memoir.
A psychologist testifying on Carroll’s behalf said on Wednesday that it’s common for rape victims to fall silent and blame themselves. The trial is expected to continue on Thursday with more of Trump’s deposition being played and three more witnesses being called to the stand by Carroll’s lawyers.