When reports emerged that advice columnist and author E. Jean Carroll accused President Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s, some in the mainstream media were slow to react.
The Washington Post responded enthusiastically by using Carroll’s accusation as a springboard to repeating other allegations made about Trump (not all of them allegations of actual “assault”). The Post went so far as to claim that Carroll’s accusation was more credible than Juanita Broaddrick’s rape accusation against Bill Clinton, and seemed eager to bootstrap in the other allegations while the opportunity was fresh.
The New York Times hung back, on the other hand, covering the story, but not prominently. The paper of record then reflected at some length on its decision to handle the news this way, concluding somewhat wanly that it could have done better.
The TV news media moved with more alacrity. Carroll was quickly lined up for an extended interview with CNN’s Alisyn Camerota. In what might be called our first clue, Carroll laid out forthrightly the circumstances under which she alleges that Trump assaulted her.
E. Jean Carroll alleges Donald Trump attacked her at a New York luxury department store in the late 1990s.
Trump has denied the allegations, saying, “I have no idea who this woman is.”
— CNN (@CNN) June 24, 2019
The incident, according to Carroll, was in “1995, 1996.” That seems a bit indefinite, but perhaps can be written down to the trauma caused by an awful memory. Carroll would have been 52 or 53 years old at the time; Trump 49 or 50.
Ms. Carroll described encountering Trump in the Bergdorf Goodman department store on a weekday evening. In the course of the encounter, she says Trump shouted “Lingerie!” at her. Or it may have been “Underwear!” In either case, Trump wanted her to go with him to the lingerie department.
They rode the escalator to Lingerie and found the department empty of shoppers. Trump, according to Carroll, held up a filmy bodysuit and suggested she try it on. Things get a little odd from there; apparently the 52-, 53-year-old Carroll remained in the company of a man she hardly knew, in a deserted lingerie department, because – as she puts it – she had this idea that she would convince him to try the bodysuit on, over his trousers.
In terms of credibility, things were kind of going downhill at that point in Camerota’s interview. At any rate, Carroll says that for some reason, on that particular evening, Bergdorf’s had left the fitting rooms unlocked in the unattended lingerie department. A predatory interchange ensued, in which Carroll, by her account, went into a dressing room with Trump, and he assaulted her.
Carroll’s next interview was with Anderson Cooper on CNN. She ruffled his composure with this exchange, which he interrupted before the train could actually wreck by going to commercial. (Transcript by Breitbart.)
“You don’t feel like a victim?” Cooper replied.
“I was not thrown on the ground and ravished, which the word rape carries so many sexual connotations,” she said. “This was not sexual. It just – it hurt.”
“I think most people think of rape as a violent assault,” Cooper said.
“I think most people think of rape as being sexy – think of the fantasies,” she added.
Cooper promptly jumped in: “Um, we’re gonna take a quick break.”
Everyone has lost their minds.https://t.co/9HFJMYpqvT
— Pamela Swain (@Writer_thriller) June 25, 2019
Viewers were starting to become skeptical. On Tuesday, a Twitter user, @thebradfordfile, tweeted video of an episode of Law & Order: SVU, in which one of the characters recounted an event with striking similarities to E. Jean Carroll’s description of the assault by Trump.
In the episode (number 11, from season 13, 2011-2012), a judge who participates in a sexual fantasies club tells the SVU cops about his recent encounters. The judge was set up through the club to look guilty in a genuine assault, and the key clue is another club member who participated in a mock rape with him in Bergdorf Goodman.
The tweet shows where to pick up the video.
I saw your interview of E. Jean Carroll. Her story sounds a lot like an episode of Special Victims Unit—Episode 11, Season 13
Discussion of a rape fantasy in the dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman's.
— thebradfordfile™ (@thebradfordfile) June 25, 2019
The transcript (by LU):
SVU cop: Did anyone want to role-play a rape with you in a public place?
Judge: Yes … there was one … a bit plain, and, it was not her fantasy, it was mine. [Pause; reactions from SVU cops]
Ah. Uh. Role play took place in, uh, the dressing room of Bergdorf’s … uhh … while she was trying on lingerie I would burst in –
[SVU cop interrupts]
SVU cop: Uh, hold on – may I? [reaches for tablet device]
The scene proceeds from there.
Byron York weighed in Tuesday evening with this information about Carroll’s perspective on the alleged rape:
Carroll has appeared in lengthy interviews on CNN and MSNBC to discuss her allegation. She also conducts something she calls “The Most Hideous Men in NYC Walking Tour,” in which she leads a tour group on a 90-minute walk around some of New York’s #MeToo landmarks. The tour includes Trump Tower and begins where Carroll says Trump raped her. “We will meet in front of Bergdorf’s 58th Street entrance,” an ad for the tour says.
York points this out in conjunction with a reminder that Carroll has a memoir coming out soon, which includes the rape allegation. His description: “It’s a rape allegation with a product tie-in.” (This raises the question whether Trump might sue for defamation, something he is not loathe to do.)
York has additional quotes from Carroll on “fantasies,” with which we can imagine trial lawyers having a field day.
Carroll says she told two friends at the time, but there were no witnesses and she never told the police. The friends reportedly confirm that she told them of the incident.
After initially saying she would not file a police report against Trump for rape, because of the women being raped trying to come to the U.S. border, Carroll has since said she is willing to do so. Evidence, however, is lacking.
It may be a good thing for her that, at the time of the alleged incident, the statute of limitations on the crime she seems to describe was five years. Although there is no longer a statute of limitations in New York on first-degree rape, there is probably no way to try this as a criminal case. If Ms. Carroll needs professional help, we can hope that she gets it.