Donald Trump is reaping the whirlwind, at least in court. On Monday, a New York appeals court ruled that he must release his tax returns. Moments later, the New York Times reported that attorneys for E. Jean Carroll had sued Trump for defamation. Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, accused the president of sexual assault in June in an excerpt from her new book, first published in New York Magazine. Trump, she wrote, cornered her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid ’90s and put “his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.” The story made Carroll one of over two dozen women to accuse the president of sexual violence.
Trump, of course, called Carroll a liar, a reaction she anticipated. (“The man I will be talking about denies it, as he has denied accusations of sexual misconduct made by at least 15 credible women,” she wrote.) He even said that he’d never met Carroll, a claim that turned out to be false, and that the writer is “not my type” — as though that means he could not possibly have assaulted her. A White House statement implied that Carroll’s account was politically motivated, a “completely false and unrealistic story surfacing 25 years after allegedly taking place and was created simply to make the president look bad.”
In the lawsuit, Carroll’s attorneys say Trump’s response to the allegation damaged her reputation and career. Submissions to her advice column for Elle allegedly decreased by 50 percent after the president labeled Carroll a liar. She’s being represented by Robbie Kaplan, the co-founder of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund. “When Carroll’s account of what had happened to her was published, Donald Trump not only denied the rape but denied ever having met Carroll or knowing who she was,” Kaplan told the Times. “But Trump knew his statements were false and defamatory — he knew who Carroll was that day at Bergdorf Goodman, and he knows who she is now.”
In a July interview, Carroll told The Daily Beast that although she didn’t plan to file charges against Trump, she was considering some form of legal action. Another Trump accuser, Summer Zervos, had previously filed her own defamation suit against the president.