Donald Trump’s legal team will not put on a defense case in a civil battery and defamation trial brought against the former president, his attorney said Wednesday.
Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina confirmed outside the presence of the jury that his legal team will not call a previously proposed expert witness due to logistical reasons related to health concerns for the witness.
The case was brought by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, who has alleged Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then defamed her when he denied her claim, said she wasn’t his type and suggested she made up the story to boost sales of her book. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.
The jury on Wednesday saw about 20 minutes of Trump’s video deposition taken last October in which he was questioned by Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan.
Trump testified that he rarely “if ever” shopped at Bergdorf Goodman.
His initial statement denying Carroll’s allegations on June 21, 2019, was also read into the record. Trump confirmed it was his statement and that he still stands by it. Quotes from his interview with The Hill days later were also read into the record. He confirmed he made those comments and stands by them at the time of the deposition.
Trump also testified during the deposition that he never read Carroll’s New York Magazine excerpt or her book in which she accuses him of raping her.
Dr. Leslie Lebowitz, a clinical psychologist, testified Wednesday that she evaluated Carroll and found that she has no signs of thought or character disorders or mental illness, but that she has been harmed by the alleged rape by Trump.
Carroll’s sister Cande Carroll also testified on Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday, the jury is expected to hear from witnesses Carol Martin, Dr. Ashlee Humphreys, and former Elle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Myers. Judge Lewis Kaplan said he plans to instruct and charge the jury to begin deliberating next Tuesday morning.
Journalist testifies about 2005 incident
The jury on Wednesday also heard from Natasha Stoynoff, a journalist who’s accused Trump of sexually assaulting her. Trump has denied Stoynoff’s claims.
Stoynoff said Trump forcibly kissed her on December 27, 2005, during a photoshoot and interview session at Mar-a-Lago.
Stoynoff was at Trump’s property with a People magazine crew working on a story about Donald and Melania Trump’s first anniversary and imminent birth of their son, Barron.
Stoynoff grew emotional at times on Wednesday wiping her face with a tissue, testifying that Trump told Stoynoff he wanted to show her another room in the house on a break between interviews when Melania stepped away to change into another outfit for a photoshoot.
This was the first and only time they were alone together, Stoynoff said.
She entered the room first and heard the door shut behind her. When she turned, Trump pushed her against a wall and started kissing her, Stoynoff testified. She pushed him off but he came back a second time and held her against the wall and continued to kiss her.
“I didn’t say words, I couldn’t, I tried I was just flustered and sort of shocked and no words came out of me, I tried though I just remember mumbling,” she said.
Trump stopped only when a butler walked into the room to let them know Melania was ready for the next interview.
Later that day, Stoynoff testified, “He said, Oh, you know we are going to have an affair, don’t you? You know, don’t forget what – don’t forget what Marla said, best sex she ever had. We are going to go for steak, we are going to go to Peter Luger’s. We’re going to have an affair.”
When Melania joined them again, Stoynoff said she conducted the interview on “autopilot,” acting like everything was normal to get the job done.
Stoynoff went back to her hotel room that night and confided the incident to a mentor and to another friend soon after. She also reported the altercation to a superior immediately when she returned to New York, asking to be removed from the assignment beat covering Trump.
Ashamed and humiliated, Stoynoff said, she didn’t report the incident to more senior executives at People at the time, because she wanted the story to be published.
“I was worried about what would happen if I told them. I was worried they would kill the story and then Trump could try to get revenge on me, try and destroy me,” she testified.
The multi-page story was published in early 2006.
The incident with Trump affected the journalist’s interviewing style, Stoynoff said on the stand. She considered herself a nice interviewer who didn’t interrogate her subjects for a story, she testified.
Stoynoff recalled thinking, “Maybe being a person who’s smiley and nice brought that onto me.”
The jury also saw a clip of Donald Trump denying Stoynoff’s allegations during a campaign trail event in which he suggests it couldn’t be true because she’s unattractive.
Stoynoff was on the stand for under an hour. Tacopina asked her a single question on cross examination – whether she had a claim against Trump before this jury. She answered no.
This story has been updated with additional developments.