In a filing on Tuesday, E Jean Carroll’s lawyer urged a federal judge in Manhattan to dismiss Trump’s suit, saying his claim that Carroll damaged his reputation by accusing him of rape instead of sexual abuse a day after the trial is akin to “satire”.
A unanimous jury on 9 May found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll during an alleged attack in a dressing room in 1996, but not liable for rape — a distinction that hinged on what body part Trump used during the alleged violation. Even so, when asked about the distinction during a CNN interview, Carroll insisted that the former president raped her.
“Oh yes he did, oh yes he did,” Carroll, who was awarded $5-million in damages, said on the network.
Trump, who denies any attack took place and argues the case is politically motivated, included the remark in a counterclaim he filed against Carroll on 27 June. He claims Carroll’s use of the word “rape” contradicts the jury verdict, which Trump has also appealed against. He also claims her remarks have led to unspecified financial damages.
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
During the civil trial, Carroll testified in graphic detail for hours about the alleged attack, which she said unfolded after she and Trump ran into each other at the Bergdorf Goodman department store and started shopping together for a gift in the deserted lingerie department.
The finding that Trump sexually abused Carroll by violating her with his finger “does not differ substantially from a statement that Trump engaged in rape,” her lawyer said in the filing. “The ‘gist’ and the ‘sting’ of both — especially in the context of the CNN interview here — are substantially the same.”
Carroll’s lawyer acknowledged the jury didn’t believe there was sufficient evidence that Trump used his penis in the alleged attack, but said it didn’t matter because Carroll’s use of the word “rape” after the trial wasn’t malicious and was constitutionally protected speech.
Trump filed the counterclaim in Carroll’s earlier defamation suit against him, which is set for trial in January and is separate from the civil abuse claim she brought against Trump last year. Carroll claims Trump defamed her by accusing her of fabricating the attacks to gain attention and sell a book.