In closing argument, attorney for E. Jean Carroll says she was 'exactly' Trump's type

Closing arguments are finished in the defamation and battery case against Trump.

May 8, 2023, 4:20 PM

Attorneys for writer E. Jean Carroll chided Donald Trump for failing to testify in his own defense, as closing arguments concluded Monday in Carroll's defamation and battery case against the former president.

Carroll, who brought the lawsuit in November, alleges that Trump defamed her in his 2022 Truth Social post by calling her allegations "a Hoax and a lie" and saying "This woman is not my type!" when he denied her claim that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s.

The former Elle magazine columnist added a charge of battery under a recently adopted New York law that allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their alleged attacker regardless of the statute of limitations. Trump has denied all allegations that he raped Carroll or defamed her.

"There wasn't even a 'He said,'" Carroll's attorney, Michael Ferrara, told the jury in his closing rebuttal. Carroll "showed up," said Ferrara, while Trump was "nowhere to be found."

Closing statements began with Carroll attorney Roberta Kaplan telling jury members that Carroll was "was exactly" Trump's type and that he sexually assaulted Carroll the very way he described treating women on the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape.

Kaplan once again played for the jury the excerpt of Trump's October 2022 deposition in which he momentarily mistakes Carroll for his second wife.

"What did Mr. Trump do after I showed him that photograph?" Kaplan told the jury. "He looked at it for a moment and then, completely unprompted by me, he said, 'It's Marla.' She was exactly his type!"

PHOTO: In this 1990s photo from a 2022 complaint filed by E. Jean Carroll with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Donald Trump, seen from the rear, appears with Carroll, who is second from the left
In this 1990s photo from a 2022 complaint filed by E. Jean Carroll with the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, Donald Trump, seen from the rear, appears with Carroll, who is second from the left.
E. Jean Carroll

Kaplan asserted that Trump only corrected himself when his own lawyer jumped in after realizing how potentially damaging the statement was.

"He said the photo was blurry. But that's the photo, ladies and gentleman," Kaplan said, putting the 1980s-era photograph of Carroll, her then-husband John Johnson, Trump, and his then-wife Ivana Trump on the screen in the courtroom. "The truth is that E. Jean Carroll, a former cheerleader and Ms. Indiana, was exactly Donald Trump's type."

Kaplan juxtaposed Trump's mistaken identification with his remarks on the "Access Hollywood" tape, on which he is heard saying about women that "I just start kissing them ... I don't even wait" and that when you're a star you can "grab them by the p----."

"What is Donald Trump doing here?" Kaplan said. "He's telling you in his own words how he treats women. It's his modus operandi."

The attorney also repeated what Trump said during his deposition about how stars get away with the conduct. "Well that's what, if you look over the last million years, I guess that's been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately," Trump is heard saying.

"Fortunately or unfortunately?" Kaplan told the jury. "Who would say fortunately to describe the act of sexual assault? I know who. He thinks stars like him can get away with it. He thinks he can get away with it here."

Kaplan implored the jury that "you must hold him to account for what he's done."

Trump defense attorney Joe Tacopina, in his closing argument, told jury members that "what E. Jean Carroll has done here is an affront to justice."

He denied that Trump battered or defamed Carroll, saying, "All Donald Trump said was, 'I didn't do it.'"

"Donald Trump doesn't have a story to tell here other than to say it's a lie," Tacopina told the jury.

"If something is completely made up, the only way to defend yourself is by challenging the people who made it up and the story itself," Tacopina said, describing the challenge Trump faces in court. "He lashes out, rightly or wrongly. It doesn't make up for the lack of proof in Ms. Carroll's unbelievable story."

PHOTO: E. Jean Carroll arrives for her civil trial against former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court, May 8, 2023, in New York.
E. Jean Carroll arrives for her civil trial against former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court, May 8, 2023, in New York.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The defense attorney seized on the fact that Carroll has not been able to recall the date of the alleged rape. Noting that Carroll's attorney had reminded jury members that Trump declined to testify in his own defense, Tacopina asked jury members, "What could I have asked him? Where were you on some unknown date 27 or 28 years ago?"

"And why is there no date to an event as significant as this in someone's life?" the attorney said. "It's not a coincidence. With no date, no month, no year, you can't present an alibi."

Calling Carroll's claim "an unbelievable work of fiction," Tacopina said that if the alleged attacker was anyone but Donald Trump, "we're not here. Not on this story."

"What they want is for you to hate him enough to ignore the facts," the attorney said.

"There is no objective evidence to corroborate her claim, including a police report," Tacopina told the jury. "She never went to the police, because it didn't happen."

"E Jean Carroll's story is not worthy of your belief," said Tacopina, who referred jurors to a 2021 text message written by former television newswoman Carol Martin, who Carroll said she told about the alleged rape the day after Trump allegedly attacked her.

"It's too hyperbolic," Martin, who testified for Carroll, wrote to a friend in the Nov. 30, 2021, message regarding Carroll's case. "Too much celebratory stuff over something that hasn't really happened."

"She's asking you to condemn another citizen of rape, the worst thing you can do, and she's asking you to do it on evidence that couldn't stand up in any credible, objective fact assessment, that would never make it through a police investigation," Tacopina told the jury.

The defense is relying on cross-examination of the plaintiff's 11 witnesses, including Carroll herself, who Tacopina asked repeatedly why she did not scream during the alleged rape.

Kaplan reminded the jury of the psychologist who testified that "screaming is one of the least likely things that actually occurs" in those situations.

Kaplan also said that some of Carroll's other behaviors that the defense questioned were consistent with someone who experienced trauma, including keeping the dress she wore the evening of the alleged assault, continuing to shop at Bergdorf Goodman, and watching Trump on "The Apprentice." Not doing those things, Kaplan said, would have forced Carroll to acknowledge how deeply the alleged rape affected her.

"Are they required to live a life of total suffering in order to seek justice in the court?" Kaplan asked regarding victims of assault. "Of course not."

Kaplan asked the jury for no specific damage award, saying the case was not about money but about restoring Carroll's name.

"What is the price for decades of living alone without companionship? No one to cook dinner with, no one to walk your dog with, no one to watch TV with?" Kaplan said. "I'm not going to put a number on that."

She did, however, implore the jury to hold Trump accountable.

"In this country, even the most powerful person can be held accountable in court. No one, not ever a former president, is above the law," Kaplan said. "Your job is to uphold that core principle."

Before dismissing the jury for the day, the judge in the case told them he would deliver jury instructions on Tuesday morning, followed by the start of deliberations. The nine-member jury of six men and three women will weigh Carroll's defamation and battery claims, and decide potential monetary damages.

After Trump declined to testify in his own defense last week, the judge gave him until Sunday to reconsider, setting a Sunday afternoon deadline for Trump to file a motion to reopen the case for the sole purpose of testifying, in light of remarks Trump made while golfing in Europe suggesting he would return to New York to confront his accuser. However Trump's team filed no motion with the court.

This month's trial is taking place as Trump seeks the White House for a third time, while facing numerous legal challenges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, his handling of classified material after leaving the White House, and possible attempts to interfere in Georgia's 2020 vote.

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