Donald Trump goes to trial on Tuesday, where the writer E. Jean Carroll is accusing the former U.S. president in a civil lawsuit of raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.
Jury selection is expected to begin in Manhattan federal court, where the former Elle magazine advice columnist is also accusing Trump of defamation.
Trump, 76, has denied raping Carroll, 79. He called her claim a “hoax” and “complete Scam” in a October 2022 post on his Truth Social platform. He has said she made up the encounter to promote her memoir and declared that she was “not my type!”
Trump is not required to attend the trial. His lawyers have said he may not appear, citing the likelihood of security concerns and traffic delays. Carroll’s lawyers have said they do not plan to call Trump as a witness.
If Trump testified, he would likely face an aggressive cross-examination. Trump has repeatedly attacked Carroll and in personal terms since she first publicly accused him of rape in 2019. He has claimed she is mentally ill.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversees the case, is keeping jurors anonymous from the public, including the lawyers, to shield them from potential harassment by Trump supporters.
The trial could last one to two weeks.
Trump, the Republican front-runner for the 2024 presidential election, faces a slew of lawsuits and investigations.
These include Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal charges over hush money payments to a pornography actress.
Trump pleaded not guilty to those charges on April 4 at a New York state courthouse, a three-minute walk from Tuesday’s trial.
The former president also faces civil fraud charges by New York Attorney General Letitia James into his namesake company.
Trump also faces criminal probes into interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential race and into classified government documents recovered at his Mar-a-Lago residence, plus inquiries into his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
In all of these cases, Trump has denied wrongdoing.
OTHER ACCUSERS MAY TESTIFY
Carroll said her encounter with Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman store occurred in late 1995 or early 1996.
She said Trump recognized her, calling her “that advice lady,” and asked for help in buying a gift for another woman.
Carroll said Trump “maneuvered” her into a dressing room where he shut the door, forced her against a wall, pulled down her tights and penetrated her. She said she broke free after two to three minutes.
Trump‘s lawyers may try to undermine Carroll’s credibility by noting that she did not call the police, and remained publicly silent for more than two decades.
They may also challenge her inability to remember the date or even the month of the alleged attack.
Carroll has said the #MeToo movement inspired her to come forward.
Two women in whom she said she confided after the attack, author Lisa Birnbach and former news anchor Carol Martin, are expected to testify.
Carroll’s witness list also includes two other women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, which Trump denies.
Lawyers for Carroll could use their testimony to establish a pattern of Trump‘s alleged mistreatment of women.
They are also expected to play for jurors a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape where Trump made graphic, vulgar comments about women.
Carroll is also suing Trump for defamation after he first denied her rape claim in June 2019, when he was still president. That case remains pending before Kaplan.
Copyright 2023: Thompson Reuters