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E. Jean Carroll testified in trial that Trump sexual assaulted her

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The woman who sued Donald Trump for sexual assault testified today in her civil suit against him. E. Jean Carroll told jurors the former president raped her in a Manhattan department store changing room in the 1990s. On the stand, she recounted in graphic detail what she alleges happened that day.

NPR's Ilya Marritz has been in court, and he joins us now. And Ilya, walk us through what E. Jean Carroll had to say on the stand.

ILYA MARRITZ, BYLINE: Well, you know, she was very controlled as she described the details of the alleged assault in the morning session. It was after the break for lunch when she returned to the stand and was asked to reflect on the fallout from going public about the alleged rape - that she said she regretted it about 100 times. And here she kind of choked out a sob and paused, and then she said, but being able to get my day in court is everything, so I'm happy.

Carroll also said she was so scared by the backlash, she went out and bought bullets for a gun she owned. She said she hasn't had sex once or even a romantic relationship with a man since the alleged rape. She says she feels unable to flirt with a man. And she said one reason she didn't speak out at the time of the alleged rape was that she was fearful she could lose her job hosting a daily TV show because her then-boss was Roger Ailes, who was friends with Trump.

BLOCK: Well, former President Trump and others have accused E. Jean Carroll of bringing this case purely for publicity's sake. What did she say about that?

MARRITZ: Carroll said she was fired from her advice column job at Elle magazine after she spoke out. She went from 8 million readers in print in the pages of Elle to something like 19,000 on Substack, which is a self-publishing newsletter. She said her book didn't sell well. She didn't make a lot of money, and her credibility took a hit. And, you know, she said when - she thought, when she went public, that Trump would at least admit this sexual encounter, but say that it was consensual. So she was shocked that he denied it, and she testified that that really stung and upset her.

BLOCK: What about Donald Trump's lawyers? Have we heard from them?

MARRITZ: You know, the judge had a lot to say to them. In the morning, Donald Trump posted to social media, attacking E. Jean Carroll and one of her lawyers, calling the case a scam. In the afternoon, Eric Trump, one of Trump's sons, also posted to social along the same lines. Judge Lewis Kaplan had already warned both sides yesterday to avoid statements that could inflame or provoke civil unrest. Today, he gave two more warnings, telling Trump's lawyer his client may be, quote, "sailing into harm's way" and referring to U.S. statutes that he didn't name that might be applied here. Trump's attorneys also, I should say, moved quickly to strike parts of Carroll's testimony when she spoke about Donald Trump's many female accusers as a group. Somewhere around 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct over the years, but these accusations can only be discussed in a very limited way in this trial.

BLOCK: OK. Well, when court resumes tomorrow, Ilya, what do you expect?

MARRITZ: Very tough questioning by Trump's legal team. Carroll will be back on the stand for direct examination, and then the defense will have their chance to do the cross-examination. I think they will go straight for her credibility, pointing out she doesn't know the date or even the year of the attack. It was 1995 or '96, she says. They say that means Trump can't provide an alibi. They will go after her for donating to Barack Obama, for writing a book - for writing in her book that the rape affected her very little and saying, I'm fine. Now, she says something different. Carroll has already said, basically, she wanted to put on a public face that was upbeat. And I have to say, watching a 79-year-old woman on the stand accusing a former president is a very dramatic thing. They're going to want to set just the right tone that is going to play well with the jury as they ask her these tough questions.

BLOCK: OK. NPR's Ilya Marritz at federal court in Manhattan. Ilya, thanks so much.

MARRITZ: You're very welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ilya Marritz
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