Donald Trump is a habitual liar and sexual abuser who destroyed E Jean Carroll’s reputation in order to protect his own after she accused him of rape, a New York jury heard on Monday.
In closing arguments in Carroll’s civil lawsuit against Trump for sexual battery and defamation, the advice columnist’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, told jurors they could believe the evidence of 10 witnesses for her client or the former president who declined to testify.
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Kaplan’s said Trump’s defense to the alleged rape in a New York department store dressing room in 1996 was that everyone else is “lying about everything”.
“In order to find for him you have to find that Donald Trump, the nonstop liar, is the only one in this court telling the truth,” she said.
But Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told the six men and three women on the jury that, by her own admission, large parts of Carroll’s account were “unbelievable” and “remarkable”.
“The whole story is an unbelievable work of fiction,” he said.
Carroll is suing for unspecified damages, claiming that Trump attacked her in a dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman’s lingerie department in the spring of 1996. The former Elle magazine advice columnist is also seeking damages for defamation after Trump accused her of lying about the attack and “destroyed her reputation”.
The jury is expected to begin considering its verdict on Tuesday. The courtroom was packed for final arguments. One woman wearing a shirt with the slogan “Arrest Trump” was barred from entering.
Kaplan told the jury that Trump must face justice.
“No one, not even a former president, is above the law,” she said. “You must hold him to account in this court for what he has done.”
Kaplan said the evidence showed that Carroll was not a random victim of an attack by Trump but one of a series of women who fell victim to his “modus operandi” of charming and then assaulting them.
Kaplan said Trump’s own words demonstrate his guilt.
“In a very real sense, Donald Trump is a witness against himself,” she said.
The lawyer pointed to Trump’s claim that Carroll wasn’t his “type”.
“In other words, ‘she wasn’t attractive enough for me to sexually assault,’” said Kaplan.
But the lawyer noted that at one point Trump mistook a photograph of Carroll for his second wife, Marla Maples who, Kaplan said, “was exactly his type”. Kaplan also highlighted the Access Hollywood tape of Trump boasting about kissing and groping women without their consent.
“What is Donald Trump doing here? Telling you in his own words how he treats women,” she said.
Some of the core evidence against Trump came from two friends of Carroll who testified that she told them about the alleged assault in 1996.
“In order to win Trump needs you to believe that not only E Jean Carroll is lying but all three women perjured themselves in this case,” said Kaplan.
Tacopina said that is exactly what happened and claimed the three women “colluded” to fabricate the accusations against Trump.
The former president’s lawyer said emails sent by one of the women, Carol Martin, who testified that Carroll told her about the alleged rape within days, was evidence of the conspiracy. In one of the messages, Martin criticizes Trump and says: “As soon as we’re both well enuf [sic] to scheme, we must do our patriotic duty again”.
Carroll’s lawyers said that Martin would not have written the messages if she was part of a conspiracy or other messages in which she criticized the advice columnist for going public with the accusation after keeping quiet for more than two decades.
Tacopina accused Carroll of “exploiting the pain and suffering” of real victims of sexual abuse to bring a politically motivated case against Trump.
“She’s abused the system by bringing a false claim,” he said.
The former president’s lawyer said it did not matter that Trump did not testify because Carroll’s own words “tore apart her story”. He said she admitted that it was “unbelievable” that no one else was on the department store floor when she says she was attacked.
Tacopina said Carroll had also said it was “an amazing coincidence” that a 2012 episode of the Law & Order television series involves a character talking about bursting into a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room as a woman tries on lingerie and raping her.
Tacopina suggested that the episode was the basis for Carroll’s story.
“Ask yourself, what’s the likelihood that someone gets raped in a Bergdorf dressing room and that exact scenario is in a TV episode?” he said.
“It’s lethal. It’s proof. Ms Carroll called this an amazing coincidence.”
Tacopina also dismissed the testimony of two women who said they were assaulted by Trump. One described him grabbing her breasts and attempting to put his hand up her skirt on a plane in 1979. The other said she was forcibly kissed by Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate.
Tacopina questioned the credibility of the allegations which he said were, in any case, “a distraction” and designed to turn the jury against Trump.
The former president’s lawyer told the jurors that Carroll is asking them “to condemn another citizen as a rapist” based on evidence “that would never make it through a police investigation in a million years”.
Tacopina said the former president was being asked to prove a negative when Carroll could not even put a date on the attack in order for Trump to show that he was somewhere else.
“Donald Trump doesn’t have a story to tell here other than to say it’s a lie,” the lawyer told the jury.
Kaplan dismissed the accusations that Carroll and other women were lying to frame the former president.
“There’s no evidence, not a shred, that any such conspiracy exists,” she said.
Carroll’s team dwelled on Trump’s unwillingness to come to court and defend his reputation against a most serious accusation.
Another of Carroll’s lawyers, Mike Ferrara, said that the defense did not call the former president because it would have hurt its case if he had testified. Ferrara wrapped up the final arguments by saying that as a result this is not a he said, she said case.
“There’s not even a ‘he said,’ because Donald Trump never looked you in the eye and denied it,” he said.