Judge OKs use of Access Hollywood tape in Trump defamation trial
Former President Donald Trump has denied defaming or assaulting E. Jean Carroll. | Julia Nikhinson/AP Photo
NEW YORK — The longtime magazine columnist who accused former President Donald Trump of raping her in the 1990s can use the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape as evidence at trial in her defamation case, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The Manhattan judge also rejected Trump’s effort to block the columnist, E. Jean Carroll, from using the testimony of two other women who previously accused him of sexual assault.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that “a jury reasonably could find, even from the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape alone, that Mr. Trump admitted in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape that he in fact has had contact with women’s genitalia in the past without their consent, or that he has attempted to do so.”
In the tape, a recording from 2005 that was widely scrutinized during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump boasts, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” adding: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Though Carroll’s 2019 lawsuit alleges only defamation, not sexual assault itself, Judge Kaplan found that “in order to prevail on her libel claim, Ms. Carroll must prove that Mr. Trump sexually assaulted her.”
Without proving the underlying claim of sexual assault, the judge wrote, “she cannot establish that Mr. Trump’s charge that her story was a lie and a hoax was false.”
In November, Carroll also filed a second lawsuit in New York alleging defamation and battery under a new state law. The 2019 lawsuit is set to go to trial in April. A judge hasn’t ruled whether the two cases will be combined.
Trump has denied defaming or assaulting Carroll. “We maintain the utmost confidence that our client will be vindicated at the upcoming trial,” a lawyer for Trump, Alina Habba, said in a statement Friday.
The judge’s ruling Friday will also permit Carroll to use the testimony of Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, two women who alleged Trump assaulted them in the years before he ran for office. Leeds alleged Trump groped her while they flew on an airplane together. Stoynoff alleged he sexually assaulted her while she was reporting a story for People Magazine.
Trump has denied both of their accounts.