Politics

Writer E. Jean Carroll sues Trump for defamation after he calls her rape claim a lie

Key Points
  • E. Jean Carroll, who has accused President Donald Trump of raping her years ago in a Manhattan luxury department store, sued him for defamation for saying that she was lying and motivated by money and a political agenda.
  • Carroll's suit is the latest of several defamation claims filed by women against Trump after he denied of allegations about sexual misconduct by claiming the women were liars.
  • Porn star Stormy Daniels had a defamation lawsuit against the president dismissed last year.
E. Jean Carroll at her home in Warwick, NY. Carroll claims that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump denies knowing Carroll.(Photo by Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Eva Deitch | The Washington Post | Getty Images

The writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused President Donald Trump of raping her years ago in the dressing room of a Manhattan luxury department store, on Monday filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump for saying that she was lying and motivated by money and a political agenda.

Carroll's suit filed in Manhattan Supreme Court is the latest of several defamation claims filed by women against Trump after he denied allegations about sexual misconduct by claiming the women were liars.

"Decades ago, the now President of the United States raped me. When I had the courage to speak out about the attack, he defamed my character, accused me of lying for personal gain, even insulted my appearance. No woman should have to face this, Carroll said.

"But this lawsuit is not only about me, she added. "I am filing this on behalf of every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled."

"No person in this country should be above the law — including the president."

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham blasted Carroll in a prepared statement.

"Let me get this straight – Ms. Carroll is suing the President for defending himself against false allegations? I guess since the book did not make any money she's trying to get paid another way," Grisham said.

"The story she used to try and sell her trash book never happened, period," Grisham said. "Her version of events is not even feasible if you've ever tried on clothing in a dressing room of a crowded department store. The lawsuit is frivolous and the story is a fraud – just like the author."

Carroll, 75, had claimed in a New York magazine article in June that Trump had raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman after a chance encounter in that upscale store in late 1995 or 1996.

After her article was published, the president denied ever meeting Carroll, much less raping her. However, there is a photo showing Trump and Carroll with other people from the 1980s.

"Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda," Trump said at the time.

Carroll's suit says that each of Trump's statements — claiming that she lied, and that she was motivated by money or a political agenda — "was false."

"Trump knew his statements were false and defamatory," said Carroll's lawyer, Robbie Kaplain. "He knew who Carroll was that day at Bergdorf Goodman and he knows who she is now. In her advice column, Carroll encourages her readers to be brave, to think clearly, and to seek justice. So Carroll has decided to follow her own advice."

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Carroll's lawsuit says that she kept quiet about Trump's alleged rape of her for two decades after one of two friends she confided in after the assault "warned" her "that Trump would ruin her life and livelihood if she reported it."

The suit says that near the end of the 2016 presidential election, Carroll "watched in horror as numerous women offered highly credible (and painfully familiar) accounts of Trump assaulting them."

But Carroll still kept quiet, the suit says, because her mother, "a respected Republican official in Indiana, was dying during the last six weeks of the presidential election," and Carroll wanted "to make her mother's last days as pleasant as possible and avoid causing her any pain."

Carroll began changing her mind about her silence in late 2017 when film producer Harvey Weinstein was publicly accused by multiple women of sexual assault and abuse.

"It suddenly seemed possible that even Trump could be held to account," the suit says.

Carroll's suit joins another one in New York filed by Summer Zervos, who once was a contestant on Trump's television show "The Apprentice."

Zervos is suing Trump for defamation in calling her a liar in response to her claims that he sexually harassed her.

Another defamation suit had been filed against Trump by porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had sex with him in 2006. Trump denies her claim.

Daniels has said that about five years after her alleged fling with Trump, she was approached by a man who warned her to keep quiet about Trump. Last year, Daniels worked with a sketch artist to create a drawing of the unidentified man she said he threatened her.

Trump in a tweet had said, "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!"

Daniels' suit had said the tweet defamed her.

A federal judge in Los Angeles threw out her lawsuit last fall, saying the tweet was "rhetorical hyperbole" that is protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.