Speed Reads

Roll the tape

Trump's loss to E. Jean Carroll was likely aided by these 2 blunders in his taped deposition

A federal jury in Manhattan on Tuesday found former President Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll, and awarded her $5 million. Trump did not attend the civil trial, as was his right, but Carroll's lawyers did show clips of the sworn deposition Trump sat down for in October 2022.

The six men and three women of the jury have so far heeded the advice of U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to "not identify yourself" or publicly discuss their deliberations "for a very long time," if ever — so we don't know what evidence swayed them to unanimously decide in a short three hours that Trump was liable for sexual assault (though not technical rape) based on a preponderance of the evidence. But "as is so often the case, Mr. Trump didn't help himself with his videotaped deposition," The Wall Street Journal sighed in an editorial. 

The Journal editorial board specifically pointed to Trump's defense of his infamous 2006 comments on an Access Hollywood outtake. "Historically" it's "largely true" that stars like him have been able to kiss and grab women sexually without repercussion, Trump said, "unfortunately or fortunately." CNN's Jake Tapper played that part of the deposition — which was released to the news media on Friday — and agreed it "must have just been a gift to E. Jean Carroll's case."

The other part of the deposition flagged by analysts was when Trump — who claimed repeatedly he had no idea who Carroll is — misidentified her in a photo as his second wife, Marla Maples, and appeared not to recognize his first wife, Ivana Trump, who was standing right next to him.

The Marla Maples slip-up was especially damaging for Trump because, elsewhere in the deposition, he stood "100 percent" by his "politically incorrect" statement that Carroll is "not my type." 

The "civil verdict against Trump provides a measure of irony" as well, Aaron Blake writes in The Washington Post, "because the litigious Trump, more than virtually anyone in America, has wielded the civil court system against his foes relentlessly." Trump said he will appeal.