Last week, advice columnist E. Jean Carroll revealed that President Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in the dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. As some wonder why the media isn't covering this accusation seriously (the NY Times admitted that it was "overly cautious" in following up on a New York magazine exclusive), the two friends Carroll confided in after the incident have come forward to corroborate her story.
Carroll and the friends, writer Lisa Birnbach and former WCBS 2 anchor Carol Martin, spoke to the NY Times' Megan Twohey for today's episode of The Daily, Birnbach described her conversation with Carroll right after the incident: "Honestly, you did say, 'He put his penis in me,' and I said, 'What? He raped you?'"
In an excerpt from her upcoming book published by New York magazine, Carroll recalled how, either in the "fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996," she ran into Trump at Bergdorf's. Trump charmed her, saying he needed her advice to find a gift "for a girl." Eventually, she said they found themselves in the lingerie department, which she remembered as being empty of salespeople. She described her exchange with Trump as being playful:
There are two or three dainty boxes and a lacy see-through bodysuit of lilac gray on the counter. The man snatches the bodysuit up and says: “Go try this on!”
“You try it on,” I say, laughing. “It’s your color.”
“Try it on, come on,” he says, throwing it at me.
“It goes with your eyes,” I say, laughing and throwing it back.
“You’re in good shape,” he says, holding the filmy thing up against me. “I wanna see how this looks.”
“But it’s your size,” I say, laughing and trying to slap him back with one of the boxes on the counter.
“Come on,” he says, taking my arm. “Let’s put this on.”
This is gonna be hilarious, I’m saying to myself — and as I write this, I am staggered by my stupidity. As we head to the dressing rooms, I’m laughing aloud and saying in my mind: I’m gonna make him put this thing on over his pants!
When they got to a dressing room, Carroll said that Trump pinned her against wall and kissed her. Then, "The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am wearing a pair of sturdy black patent-leather four-inch Barneys high heels, which puts my height around six-one, and I try to stomp his foot."
Birnbach and Martin, who were referred to but not initially named in the New York magazine excerpt, had different reactions when Carroll told them what happened. Carroll called Birnbach immediately after leaving the store. Birnbach insisted that Carroll had been raped and kept telling her that she should go to the police, but Carroll said, "Fifteen minutes of my life, it's over. Don't ever tell anybody, I just had to tell you."
Carroll, who does not describe the incident as rape ("It was an episode, it was an action, it was a fight, not a crime"), said she thought she encouraged him "100 percent."
A few days later, Carroll said she spoke to Martin. Martin said, "[Carroll] doesn't break down easily.... It's not like she was crying." And her reaction was the opposite of Birnbach's—"I said don't tell anybody. I wouldn't tell anybody about this"—and referred to how Trump had so many lawyers and that nobody would believe Carroll.
When asked why Carroll didn't come forward about her experience when Trump was running for president, she said, "Shocking as it sounds I thought it would help him. And shocking as it was, it did... He is a masculine, powerful, leader-like things to take what you want. To have asmany women for your own pleasure as you can take."
Twohey, who broke the Harvey Weinstein story with Jodi Kantor, does not think that Carroll is offering up the Trump allegations because she has a book coming out, noting that Carroll received a "modest advance" and it's a small part of the book. Plus, Carroll is insistent that it's not rape.
"Every woman gets to choose her word," Carroll said on The Daily. "Every woman gets to choose how she describes it. This is my way of saying it. This my word. My word is fight. My word is not the victim word. I have not been raped. Something has not been done to me. I fought. That's the thing."
When asked about Carroll's allegation, Trump said, "I’ll say it with great respect. Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, okay?"