‘Like 40 Million Hands’: E. Jean Carroll Witness Says Trump Groped Her on Plane
In 2016, businesswoman Jessica Leeds described to The New York Times how Donald Trump groped her non-consensually during a 1979 flight to New York City. On Tuesday, Leeds recounted her story under oath as a witness on behalf of E. Jean Carroll, who has accused the former president of raping her in a department store dressing room in the ‘90s.
Leeds told the jury how she was upgraded from her seat in coach to the flight’s first-class cabin, and was seated next to Trump. “Out of the blue” she recalled, “Trump decided to kiss me and grope me.”
It was “like a tussle,” Leeds said. “He was trying to kiss me. He was trying to pull me towards him. He was grabbing my breasts. It was like he had 40 million hands.” Leeds managed to pry herself away from Trump and “stormed” back to her original seat in coach.
In 2019, Carroll came forward with allegations that Trump had forced himself upon her after they encountered each other shopping in a Bergdorf Goodman department store. Carroll testified last week about the alleged assault. It was “extremely painful,” Carroll told the jury. “As I’m sitting here today, I still feel it.”
Carroll sparred with Trump attorney Joe Tacopina from the stand during cross-examination. When Tacopina questioned why she hadn’t screamed during the assault, she responded that she was “not a screamer,” and chided the lawyer for his line of questioning. “Women don’t come forward,” she said. “One of the reasons they don’t come forward is because they’re always asked, ‘Why didn’t you scream?’ I’m telling you, he raped me whether I screamed or not.”
Lisa Birnbach, a friend of Carroll’s, also testified on Tuesday, claiming the author called her minutes after the alleged assault took place and that she encouraged Carroll to report the encounter to police. “It sounded like a physical fight, she tried to get free from him,” Birnbach testified, adding that she felt that Carroll, who was “breathless, hyperventilating, emotional,” recoiled when Birnbach insisted to her friend that she had been raped.
Trump has yet to appear in court, but that hasn’t stopped him from shitposting about the trial, despite warnings from Judge Lewis Kaplan that his online conduct is “entirely inappropriate.” On Monday, Kaplan denied a request from Trump’s legal team to have the case declared a mistrial.
In having Leeds testify, Carroll’s lawyers are seeking to establish a pattern of behavior from Trump. Leeds won’t be the only witness testifying on Trump’s alleged pattern of assaulting women. Natasha Stoynoff, a former People magazine writer who says Trump cornered and groped during a 2005 interview at his Mar-a-Lago estate, is expected to take the stand later this week.