Former President Donald Trump confused author E. Jean Carroll with his second wife Marla Maples during a deposition for the sexual assault case Carroll brought against Trump. According to a report from The Washington Post, Trump, who has long insisted Carroll is not his “type,” mistook his accuser for his second wife when shown a photo from the ‘90s during questioning last year.
In 2019, Carroll, the journalist and author famed for her “Ask E. Jean” Elle magazine column, accused Trump of having assaulted her in the dressing room of New York’s Bergdorf Goodman department store in the ‘90s. Carroll wrote that Trump held her against the wall of the dressing room, putting “his fingers around my private area” and forcing her to engage in intercourse. Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit after the former president denied the allegation. The suit was upgraded in November 2019 to include a charge of battery under New York’s new Adult Survivors Act. Trump was deposed last October.
According to a transcript of the deposition, Trump responded, “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,” when shown a black and white photo that depicted Trump and his first wife, Ivana Trump, speaking to Carroll and her then-husband John Johnson, from around the time the assault would have taken place. Trump pointed at Carroll when prompted to clarify who he was referring to in the photograph before being corrected by his lawyer, attorney Alina Habba.
The photo has been used to counter Trump’s claim that he had never met Carroll. Trump claims the photo simply shows him greeting guests at an event, many of whom he would not have known personally.
Despite repeatedly asserting that the encounter at Bergdorf’s never happened, earlier this month Trump misconstrued comments Carroll made during an interview with CNN to claim “she loved” sexual assault. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped,” Trump said in the same deposition. Carroll had told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in June of 2019 that she hesitated to use the word “rape” when describing her experience with Trump because of social portrayals of rape as “sexy” or a “sexual fantasy.” Carroll instead thought of her experience with Trump as a “fight.”
The case is currently awaiting a decision from D.C.’s court of appeals, which will determine if the Department of Justice can claim immunity for Trump against the charges of defamation, as the allegations were made during his time as president. Regardless of the decision, the case is expected to head to trial on either all or some of the charges in April.