Trump Lawyers Won't Present Defense in Rape Trial

Witness testifies that Trump tried to force himself on her at Mar-a-Lago
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2023 7:25 PM CDT
Trump Team Won't Call Witnesses in Rape Trial
Natasha Stoynoff walks outside federal court in New York, Wednesday, May 3, 2023.   (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

Donald Trump will not present a defense in E. Jean Carroll's rape and defamation lawsuit against him, his attorney told the judge overseeing the civil trial on Wednesday. Joe Tacopina told US District Judge Lewis Kaplan that an expert could no longer testify in Trump's defense due to health issues, NBC reports. The only other person on the defense witness list is Trump himself, who is currently in Scotland and is not expected to attend the trial. Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said she expects to finish presenting her case by midday Thursday, reports the New York Times. The judge said closing arguments would likely happen on Monday, with the case going to the jury the next day.

While Trump's lawyers aren't presenting a defense case, they can still use testimony from cross-examination of Carroll and other witnesses in their closing argument, the Times notes. Carroll says she was raped by Trump in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s. In part of a deposition played for the jury Wednesday, Trump called the allegation "the most ridiculous, disgusting story," the Guardian reports.

  • Earlier Wednesday, the trial heard from former People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff, who said Trump pushed her against a wall and started kissing her when she visited Mar-a-Lago in 2005 for a story on Donald and Melania Trump's first wedding anniversary, ABC reports. She said Trump lured her away from staffers, saying he wanted to show her a "really great room." Stoynoff said she tried to push Trump away but he didn't stop until a butler entered the room. She said she felt "ashamed and humiliated at what had happened" and didn't come forward until the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced during Trump's 2016 campaign.
  • The tape, in which Trump boasts about groping women, was played for the jury.

  • On Tuesday, another accuser, Jessica Leeds, said Trump tried to force himself on her on a flight to New York in the late 1970s after she had been invited to sit next to him in first class. "There was no conversation. It was like out of the blue. It was like a tussle," Leeds testified, per the AP. "He was trying to kiss me, trying to pull me towards him. He was grabbing my breasts. It was like he had 40 zillion hands. It was like a tussling match between the two of us." She said she managed to break free and get back to coach class.
The Trump team's request for a mistrial was denied earlier this week. (More E. Jean Carroll stories.)

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