Donald Trump deposed in defamation suit filed by E. Jean Carroll

NEW YORK — Former President Trump answered questions under oath Wednesday in a lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, a magazine columnist who says he raped her in the mid-1990s in a department store dressing room.

The deposition gave Carroll’s lawyers a chance to interrogate Trump about the assault allegations, as well as statements he made in 2019 when she told her story publicly for the first time.

Details on how the deposition went weren’t immediately disclosed.

“We’re pleased that on behalf of our client, E. Jean Carroll, we were able to take Donald Trump’s deposition today. We are not able to comment further,” the law firm representing her, Kaplan Hecker & Fink, said in a statement.

Trump has said Carroll’s rape allegation is “a hoax and a lie.”

His legal team worked for years to delay his deposition in the lawsuit, which was filed when the Republican was still president. A federal judge last week rejected Trump’s request for another delay, saying he couldn’t “run the clock out on plaintiff’s attempt to gain a remedy for what allegedly was a serious wrong.”

Alina Habba, an attorney representing Trump, said Wednesday, “My client was pleased to set the record straight today. This case is nothing more than a political ploy like many others in the long list of witch hunts against Donald Trump.”

Carroll was to have been questioned by Trump’s lawyers last Friday. Neither her attorneys nor Trump’s have responded to questions about how that deposition went.

The lawyers also haven’t disclosed whether Trump’s deposition was done in person or remotely, over video. Trump was in Florida on Wednesday. The lawsuit is being handled in a court in New York City.

Anything Trump said during his deposition could potentially be used as evidence in an upcoming civil trial. He hasn’t faced any criminal charges related to Carroll’s allegations, and any prosecution is unlikely. The deadline for criminal charges over alleged sexual assaults that occurred in the 1990s has long expired.

Similar legal deadlines also applied to civil lawsuits claiming sexual assault. As a result, Carroll chose to sue Trump for defamation over comments he made in 2019 when he denied any wrongdoing. She maintains that her reputation was damaged by his denials and attacks on her credibility and character.

However, New York lawmakers recently gave people a one-year window to take old sexual assault claims to civil courts. Carroll’s lawyer has told the court she intends to file such a suit against Trump after that window opens in late November.

According to Carroll’s account, she bumped into Trump as the two were shopping at the Bergdorf Goodman store across Fifth Avenue from Trump Tower. At the time, Carroll was on television as the host of an advice program, “Ask E. Jean.”

She said the two engaged in friendly banter as she tried to help him pick out a gift. But when they were briefly alone in a dressing room, she said he pulled down her tights and raped her.

In a recent statement, Trump called that story “a complete con job.”

“I don’t know this woman, have no idea who she is, other than it seems she got a picture of me many years ago, with her husband, shaking my hand on a reception line at a celebrity charity event,” Trump said.

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