Former U.S. President Donald Trump's trial begins on Tuesday, with writer E. Jean Carroll alleging in a civil lawsuit that Trump raped her in a department store dressing room during the mid-1990s. Additionally, the former Elle magazine advice columnist accuses Trump of defamation.
The 76-year-old Trump denies Carroll's allegations, calling them a "hoax" and "complete scam" in an October 2022 Truth Social post. He claims she fabricated the incident to promote her memoir and dismissed her as "not my type."
Although Trump is not obligated to attend the trial, his lawyers have indicated that he might not appear, citing security concerns and potential traffic disruptions. Carroll's legal team does not plan to call Trump as a witness.
Should Trump testify, he is likely to face intense cross-examination. He has consistently attacked Carroll in personal terms since she first publicly accused him of rape in 2019, suggesting she is mentally ill.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan is keeping jurors anonymous to protect them from potential harassment by Trump supporters. The trial could last between one and two weeks.
As the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 presidential election, Trump faces numerous lawsuits and investigations, including Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's criminal charges related to hush money payments made to a porn star. Trump has denied any wrongdoing in all cases.
Carroll alleges that her encounter with Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman store took place in late 1995 or early 1996. She claims that Trump forced her against a wall, pulled down her tights, and penetrated her before she escaped after two to three minutes.
Trump's lawyers may attempt to undermine Carroll's credibility, pointing to her decision not to contact the police and her public silence for over two decades. They may also question her inability to recall the exact date or month of the alleged attack.
Carroll says the #MeToo movement inspired her to come forward. Two women she confided in after the alleged incident, author Lisa Birnbach and former news anchor Carol Martin, are expected to testify. Her witness list also includes two other women who accused Trump of sexual misconduct, which he denies.
Carroll's legal team may use their testimony to establish a pattern of Trump's alleged mistreatment of women and play a 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape featuring Trump's graphic, vulgar comments about women for jurors.
Carroll is also suing Trump for defamation after he initially denied her rape claim in June 2019 while he was still president. That case remains pending before Kaplan.