Former President Donald Trump is trying to keep the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape out of evidence at his upcoming defamation trial, despite defending his own words in an October deposition last year.
The revelations came in a series of recent motions filed in the defamation case against Trump by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has long maintained that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a high-end New York department store in the mid-1990s. Carroll sued Trump for defamation in November 2019 after he publicly denied the assault allegations, which she shared in a column for New York magazine earlier that year.
“She’s not my type,” Trump said after the piece was published.
Carroll also sued Trump in November for rape under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.
A pretrial motion filed by Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan on Thursday argues that testimony from other Trump accusers, including Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds, should be admitted at trial.
Stoynoff alleges that Trump assaulted her at his Florida Mar-a-Lago compound in 2005, and Leeds has accused Trump of assaulting her on a plane in the 1980s. Excerpts from their testimony attached to Kaplan’s motion describe the alleged assaults in disturbing detail.
“I walked into the room first and I’m looking around the room wondering what does he want to show me,” Stoynoff said in her October deposition. “Then I hear the door close behind me and I turn around and he’s right here [indicating where he was standing], and he grabs my shoulders and pushes me against this wall and starts kissing me.”
Stoynoff said she pushed back twice, but Trump did not relent until a butler entered the room.
Leeds testified in October that Trump assaulted her after she was offered to fly first class in a seat next to Trump on a flight from Texas to New York.
According to Leeds, they were surrounded by other passengers throughout the ordeal:
Well, he was with his hands grabbing me, trying to kiss me, grabbing my breasts, pulling me towards him, pulling himself on to me. It was kind of a struggle going on. Part of my brain was wondering why the people in the back — in the seat behind me weren’t noticing that the seat was jiggling around and why wasn’t the guy that was sitting across the aisle saying something or where in hell was the stewardess. That went on for what seemed like a terribly long time, but it probably was just a few seconds.
It was when he started putting his hand up my skirt that I realized that nobody was going to save me but me, and I was on the aisle, I managed to wheel my way out of the chair, and grabbed my purse and I went back to my seat in the back.
In arguing for the admission of the women’s testimony, Kaplan also recalled Trump’s 2005 comments to now-former “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush, which emerged in October 2016, shortly before the presidential election.
“I just start kissing them,” Trump said to Bush. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Bush was ousted from his job after the tape came to light. Trump and his allies defended the comments as “locker room talk.”
In an October deposition, Trump stood by his comments.
“Well, historically, that’s true with stars,” Trump told Carroll’s Kaplan during his Oct. 19 deposition after Kaplan read Trump’s comments as captured on the tape.
“True with stars that they can grab women by the p—-?” Kaplan asked.
“Well, that’s what — if you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true,” Trump replied. “Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”
“And you consider yourself to be a star?” Kaplan asked.
“I think you can say that, yeah,” Trump replied.
Trump then re-affirmed his “locker room talk” defense.
The transcript pages also reveal that Trump took several opportunities to make derogatory comments about not only Carroll — whose allegations he called a “con job” and a “fairy tale” — but also Kaplan herself, continuing to cite a lack of physical attraction to an accuser as a defense against sexual assault allegations.
“I looked at her. I see her. I hear what she says,” Trump said of Leeds during a portion of the deposition in which Trump was asked about comments he previously made about her. “Whatever. You wouldn’t be a choice of mine, either, to be honest with you. I hope you’re not insulted. I wouldn’t under any circumstances have any interest in you. I’m honest when I say it.”
“I’m an attorney in cases suing you,” Kaplan reminded Trump before asking Trump if he knew anything about Leeds.
“Even if you weren’t suing me, I would have no interest. Okay?” Trump said to Kaplan.
During his deposition, Trump called Kaplan a “disgrace” and accused her of being an operative for the Democratic party. He also threatened to sue her.
Kaplan’s motion argues that the Trump legal team shouldn’t be allowed to make comments and conduct cross-examination about her representation of Carroll. She also wants to preclude Trump’s lawyers from bringing witness testimony not disclosed in discovery and his comments about his recent offer to provide a DNA sample.
Trump’s attorneys, Alina Habba and Michael Madaio want to keep testimony from Leeds and Stoynoff out, as well as the “Access Hollywood” tape. They argue that the evidence is “not being offered for any proper purpose.”
“Here, Defendant expects that Plaintiff will attempt to introduce this evidence to demonstrate that Defendant is ‘predisposed’ to committing sexual assault,” the pretrial motion says. “However, Plaintiff’s desire to introduce this evidence can serve only one purpose: to suggest to the jury that Defendant had a propensity for sexual assault and therefore the alleged incident must have in fact occurred.”
Trump’s lawyers say that it is “plainly evident” that “the contents of the Access Hollywood Tape, and Defendant’s comments concerning them, do not even tangentially relate to the core of Plaintiff’s claim.”
Habba and Madaio also want to keep out evidence of Carroll’s claims of emotional damages.
The trial is set to start on April 10.
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