Longtime ELLE columnist E. Jean Carroll accused President Donald Trump this summer of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in New York City more than 20 years ago.
In her memoir What Do We Need Men For?, she wrote that Trump asked her to help him pick out a gift for “a girl” in the store’s lingerie section in late 1995 or early 1996. Inside a dressing room, she wrote, Trump penetrated her before she was able to “get a knee up high enough to push him out and off.”
Trump denied the allegations. In fact, he denied ever meeting Carroll, despite a photo of them together from the ’80s. “I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type,” he told The Hill. “Number two, it never happened. It never happened, okay?”
On Monday, Carroll announced she’s suing Trump for defamation, claiming the president damaged her reputation and career when he denied the allegations. According to the lawsuit, his response was, “fully consistent with his tried-and-true playbook for responding to credible public reports that he sexually assaulted women.”
In a tweet Monday morning, Carroll says she filed it on behalf of “every woman who has ever been harassed, assaulted, silenced, or spoken up only to be shamed, fired, ridiculed and belittled. No person in this country should be above the law – including the president.”
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told The Washington Post the lawsuit was “frivolous.” She reportedly called Carroll “a fraud.”
“Let me get this straight – Ms. Carroll is suing the President for defending himself against false allegations?” she asked the Post. “I guess since the book did not make any money she’s trying to get paid another way. The story she used to try and sell her trash book never happened, period. Her version of events is not even feasible if you’ve ever tried on clothing in a dressing room of a crowded department store. The lawsuit is frivolous and the story is a fraud – just like the author.”
Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, told The New York Times: “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. 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.”
Carroll has written ELLE’s Ask E. Jean column for the past 26 years.