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Trump blasts journalist who accuses him of raping her and calls her mentally ill

The court has released the former president’s statement during the investigation of the case, while the judge leaves the door to his appearance before court on Monday

E. Jean Carroll
E. Jean Carroll, on Thursday as she leaves the courthouse in Manhattan, New York.John Minchillo (AP)

Pending the closing arguments from the prosecution and defense, scheduled for next Monday, the trial against Donald Trump for the alleged rape of journalist and columnist E. Jean Carroll is practically ready for sentencing. The Republican has not yet appeared before the New York court trying him, but in a new testimony released Friday he defends himself by disqualifying Carroll. “She’s a liar!” cries Trump in his statement during the instruction of the case, in 2022. In the 100-page statement, the Republican calls the complainant mentally ill. “I think she is mentally sick. There is something strange about this woman,” Trump insists. The video with fragments of the statement has been published this Friday by the judge, after several media claimed to have access to it.

It is a civil trial, in which the 79-year-old plaintiff is seeking compensation for damages, so the Republican candidate for re-election in 2024 would not face a prison sentence in case he is found guilty. His defense on Tuesday waived its right to call witnesses, so the process has been settled in just over two weeks. Trump is more concerned about getting the criminal case for which he has been charged moved to federal court, something his lawyers are working on. He was indicted in early April on 34 counts of accounting fraud related to payments to cover up extramarital affairs before the 2016 presidential election. The next hearing is scheduled for early December and the trial will not be held until early 2024 at the earliest.

Regarding Carroll’s alleged rape in a New York luxury department store fitting room in the spring of 1996, two female friends have taken the stand this week who said they spoke with the former Elle magazine columnist shortly after the alleged assault and found her account credible. Two other women have reported abuse by the tycoon. One said Trump grabbed and groped her during a flight in the late 1970s, while the other explained that the Republican had forcibly kissed her at his Florida home in 2005.

The jury was also allowed to view on Thursday an excerpt from the notorious 2005 video in which Trump brags about denigrating women at will. “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything to them, grab them by the pussy,” is the most degrading and well-known line from the recording. In his video statement, Trump called the video, “which is now old,” “locker room talk.” According to a review by the US press, Trump has so far been accused by more than 20 women of sexually assaulting them or of inappropriate gestures, although this is the first time he has gone to trial for this reason. The tycoon has always denied the allegations and has never been criminally prosecuted until Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment for buying the silence of three witnesses, including porn actress Stormy Daniels. Bragg has called again this week for Trump to be barred from publicly commenting on details of the case.

Open ended finale

At the end of Thursday’s hearing, Chief Judge Lewis Kaplan had Trump’s lawyer confirm that he pleads not guilty, as well as his refusal to testify before the nine citizens who make up the jury. Then, “in the interests of justice”, the judge left the door open to a last-minute appearance by the tycoon, “if he changes his mind”.

From one of his properties, a golf club in Ireland, Trump told reporters on Thursday that he planned to “go back and confront” Carroll, but his lead attorney, Joe Tacopina, has given no signs to that effect. Nonetheless, his unpredictability and the judge’s invitation leave the door open to any possibility, as he faces other, far more serious political prosecutions, such as the alleged attempted 2020 Georgia vote fraud or his role in the 2021 Capitol assault. Given that the allegations of abuse of women are not new, and given his ability to bounce back - he won the 2016 election a month after the video was released in which he brags about denigrating women - the resolution of the Carroll case will serve as a measure of his ability to survive scandals that would ostracize any other politician.

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