Trump team says it will call no defence witnesses at civil rape trial
Canadian woman testifies that Trump forcibly kissed her during an interview
WARNING: This article contains details and allegations of sexual assault and may affect those who have experienced sexual violence or know someone affected by it.
Donald Trump's lawyers said Wednesday that they will not call any witnesses at the New York civil trial arising from writer E. Jean Carroll's claims that the former U.S. president raped her in the mid-1990s.
Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina said they decided not to put on a defence case after learning that health issues were preventing their expert witness, a psychiatrist, from testifying. Tacopina previously disclosed that Trump would not testify at the trial, in federal court in Manhattan.
Later in the day, the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood video in which Trump bragged about grabbing women sexually without asking was played for the jury, along with excerpts of Trump's videotaped deposition.
Carroll testified last week that Trump raped her after she accompanied him into a department store fitting room in 1996.
Trump, considered the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, said in an October 2022 deposition that the alleged rape in the dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City decades ago didn't happen.
"It's the most ridiculous, disgusting story," Trump said in the video, hunched over a conference table as Carroll's lawyers presented documents to him."It's just made up."
Although the deposition footage was not released, portions of the transcript have been filed publicly.
'I tried to push him away'
Also Wednesday, onetime People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff testified that Trump forcibly kissed her against her will while showing her around his Florida home for a 2005 article about the first anniversary of his marriage to Melania Trump.
Trump lawyers unsuccessfully challenged the 2005 video and Stoynoff's testimony prior to the start of the trial. Stoynoff testified that she was "horrified" when the tape was made public just weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
"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," she said.
Stoynoff became emotional as soon as the subject was raised of her December 2005 trip to interview Trump and Melania at the Mar-a-Lago mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., where she said Trump cornered her alone in a room and began kissing her after saying he wanted to show her a great room.
She grabbed a tissue as she began describing the encounter that she said lasted several minutes.
Stoynoff, a Canadian, said she entered the room first, "thinking, 'Wow, really nice room, wonder what he wants to show me.'"
Then, she recalled, the door shut behind her, and Trump soon "had his hands on my shoulders, pushed me against the wall and started kissing me."
"I tried to push him away," Stoynoff said. She said she did not recall anything she had said to prompt the attack, and she did not recall anything Trump said either.
"He came toward me again, and I tried to shove him again. He was kissing me and, you know, was against me," she recalled.
She said she was "flustered and shocked" but unable to speak and did not scream. "No words came out of me."
The encounter ended, Stoynoff said, when a butler entered the room and "he stopped doing what he was doing."
After Stoynoff and Trump were led to a couch area to wait for Melania, who was changing her clothing, Trump said several things to Stoynoff, including telling her not to forget that Marla Maples, Trump's second wife, had once bragged to a tabloid that Trump was the best sex she ever had.
Trump has denied that he ever tried to kiss Stoynoff.
Case could go to jury early next week
Stoynoff's testimony came two days after Jessica Leeds testified that Trump grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt when they were seated next to each other on a late-1970s flight.
Trump, who has denied ever knowing Carroll, has not attended the trial, and his lawyers say they will call no witnesses after lawyers for Carroll rest their case, which was expected to occur Thursday.
Trump says her claims are politically motivated attempts to smear his reputation and deny him the White House.
His lawyers attacked Carroll's credibility through exhaustive cross-examination, questioning why she didn't scream out for help during the alleged attack and why she never went to police.
Carroll did not speak publicly about her Trump claims for 17 years. But in a 2019 memoir, she described how a sometimes flirtatious chance encounter with Trump at the store in spring 1996 ended with violence when Trump cornered her in a dressing room after they challenged each other to try on a piece of lingerie.
A psychologist testifying on Carroll's behalf testified Wednesday that it's common for rape victims to fall silent and blame themselves.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan said closing arguments were likely to happen Monday, and the jury would get the case on Tuesday.
Support is available for anyone who has been sexually assaulted. You can access crisis lines and local support services through this Government of Canada website or the Ending Violence Association of Canada database. If you're in immediate danger or fear for your safety or that of others around you, please call 911.
With files from Reuters