The 79-year-old former journalist E. Jean Carroll took the stand on Wednesday to describe how Donald Trump, in her own words, raped her at a department store nearly three decades ago.
“He put his hand inside my vagina and curved his fingers,” she said, raising her hand and wincing. “As I’m sitting here today, I can still feel it.”
“I… I… I tried,” she said, her voice trembling. “When you ask me what I did at that moment, I ask why I went in there… but I’m proud to say I did get out.”
For almost two hours, Carroll explained how a chance encounter at the luxury store Bergdorf Goodman turned “dark”—at times emotional testimony that she has waited since 2019 to deliver in court. The longtime magazine advice columnist sued Trump while he was still president, and he used the power of the Justice Department and his personal lawyers to delay the matter for years.
Carroll detailed how she had just wrapped up recording her one-hour live afternoon TV show “Ask E. Jean” in Fort Lee, New Jersey, sometime in the spring of 1996—she can’t remember when exactly—and she decided to drive into Manhattan to stop at Bergdorf Goodman. On her way out of the store, she said Trump stopped her and suggested they go inside and shop together, as he was in need of her fashion advice when purchasing a gift for “a friend.”
Carroll, who was then a popular Elle magazine columnist and former writer for Saturday Night Live, said she jumped at the chance to experience a fun tale she could later share.
“I could only think of it as a scene that is such a great story. I was delighted,” calling it “high comedy” only found on the city streets of New York.
She testified that they made their way up to the sixth floor lingerie department, where Trump picked up a see-through light blue bodysuit—something he ordered her to try on.
“You put it on. It’s your color,” she said she shot back, hoping to get the real estate tycoon to put on women’s lingerie over his suit.
But she said it took a sudden turn when they approached a fitting room, only to have Trump close the door behind them, shove her up against a wall, and pull down her thick tights. Carroll was nearly in tears as she recalled Trump forcefully shoving his hand inside her vagina, curling his fingers, then shoving his penis inside her.
“That open door has plagued me for years, because I walked right in,” she testified. “I didn’t want to make a scene. I didn’t want to make him angry at me… I don’t remember screaming. I’m not a screamer. I’m a fighter.”
Carroll said that after two or three minutes, she managed to push him off and quickly exited the store. She also recounted telling two friends, one who suggested she call police and the other who cautioned her to stay quiet because Trump would use his immense wealth to ruin her.
Trump has denied the event ever happened, using choice words to describe how Carroll is not even his “type,” which led her to sue him for defamation. Carroll has sued Trump for defamation and battery, and her lawsuit threatens to cost Trump millions.
Now that the trial is underway, nine New Yorkers are finally hearing from the woman herself—though her alleged attacker is nowhere to be seen.
Trump has refused to show up in court so far, choosing instead to sit back and post on his social media network, flouting a federal judge’s stern warning to avoid tainting the jury or spark civil unrest.
“The E. Jean Carroll case, Ms. Bergdorf Goodman, is a made up SCAM. Her lawyer is a political operative, financed by a big political donor that they said didn’t exist, only to get caught lying about that,” he posted Wednesday morning on Truth Social.
Trump continued to reference Carroll’s dress—which could have been a key piece of evidence in the case, had Trump not spent years refusing a DNA test.
“She said there was a dress, using the ol’ Monica Lewinsky ‘stuff’, then she didn’t want to produce it. The dress should be allowed to be part of the case. This is a fraudulent & false story–Witch Hunt!” he posted.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan warned Trump’s lawyers in court on Wednesday that the former president appeared to be tampering with the trial and abusing his public presence to speak to the jurors. The judge even threatened what appeared to be sanctions against Trump himself, cautioning that the former president could be presenting himself “with a new source of liability, and I think you know what I mean.”
“I can’t accept that this is inappropriate,” responded defense lawyer Joe Tacopina, who nevertheless said he would ask Trump to back down.
“I will speak to my client and ask him to refrain from making another post on this case,” he eventually conceded.