[guest post by Dana]
In E. Jean Carroll’s upcoming book, “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal,” due to be released in July, the author claims that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her after encountering him in Bergdorf Goodman. Why didn’t Elle columnist and former television host Carroll go public with her story sooner? Say like when he was running for the presidency? Well, she’ll tell you why. In her recounting of the event, she meets skeptical readers head-on:
Why haven’t I “come forward” before now?
Receiving death threats, being driven from my home, being dismissed, being dragged through the mud, and joining the 15 women who’ve come forward with credible stories about how the man grabbed, badgered, belittled, mauled, molested, and assaulted them, only to see the man turn it around, deny, threaten, and attack them, never sounded like much fun. Also, I am a coward.
Thus she joins 15 other women who have made accusations of sexual misconduct against President Trump.
According to Carroll, it began when she happened to bump into Donald Trump, whom she had met once before, in Bergdorf Goodman. She describes a light-hearted romp through the store to help him find a gift for a woman:
I am surprised at how good-looking he is. We’ve met once before, and perhaps it is the dusky light but he looks prettier than ever. This has to be in the fall of 1995 or the spring of 1996 because he’s garbed in a faultless topcoat and I’m wearing my black wool Donna Karan coatdress and high heels but not a coat.
“Come advise me,” says the man. “I gotta buy a present.”
“Oh!” I say, charmed. “For whom?”
“A girl,” he says.
“Don’t the assistants of your secretaries buy things like that?” I say.
“Not this one,” he says. Or perhaps he says, “Not this time.” I can’t recall. He is a big talker, and from the instant we collide, he yammers about himself like he’s Alexander the Great ready to loot Babylon.
As we are standing just inside the door, I point to the handbags. “How about—”
“No!” he says, making the face where he pulls up both lips like he’s balancing a spoon under his nose, and begins talking about how he once thought about buying Bergdorf ’s.
“Or … a hat!” I say enthusiastically, walking toward the handbags, which, at the period I’m telling you about — and Bergdorf’s has been redone two or three times since then — are mixed in with, and displayed next to, the hats. “She’ll love a hat! You can’t go wrong with a hat!”
I don’t remember what he says, but he comes striding along — greeting a Bergdorf sales attendant like he owns the joint and permitting a shopper to gape in awe at him — and goes right for a fur number.
“Please,” I say. “No woman would wear a dead animal on her head!”
What he replies I don’t recall, but I remember he coddles the fur hat like it’s a baby otter.
“How old is the lady in question?” I ask.
“How old are you?” replies the man, fondling the hat and looking at me like Louis Leakey carbon-dating a thighbone he’s found in Olduvai Gorge.
“I’m 52,” I tell him.
“You’re so old!” he says, laughing — he was around 50 himself — and it’s at about this point that he drops the hat, looks in the direction of the escalator, and says, “Lingerie!” Or he may have said “Underwear!” So we stroll to the escalator. I don’t remember anybody else greeting him or galloping up to talk to him, which indicates how very few people are in the store at the time.
According to Carroll, it’s in the lingerie department where things turned ugly but not until after they playfully banter about which of them should try on the lingerie that he grabbed from the counter.
At this point in her story, Carroll confirms that there is no available security footage to back up her story (Bergdorf Goodman did not retain any footage from that time), and that she didn’t report the encounter to the police but did tell two close friends about what happened in the dressing room:
I told two close friends. The first, a journalist, magazine writer, correspondent on the TV morning shows, author of many books, etc., begged me to go to the police.
“He raped you,” she kept repeating when I called her. “He raped you. Go to the police! I’ll go with you. We’ll go together.”
My second friend is also a journalist, a New York anchorwoman. She grew very quiet when I told her, then she grasped both my hands in her own and said, “Tell no one. Forget it! He has 200 lawyers. He’ll bury you.” (Two decades later, both still remember the incident clearly and confirmed their accounts to New York.)
And here’s what Carroll claims happened once inside the dressing room:
The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again. He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights.
I am astonished by what I’m about to write: I keep laughing. The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am wearing a pair of sturdy black patent-leather four-inch Barneys high heels, which puts my height around six-one, and I try to stomp his foot. I try to push him off with my one free hand — for some reason, I keep holding my purse with the other — and I finally get a knee up high enough to push him out and off and I turn, open the door, and run out of the dressing room.
The whole episode lasts no more than three minutes. I do not believe he ejaculates. I don’t remember if any person or attendant is now in the lingerie department. I don’t remember if I run for the elevator or if I take the slow ride down on the escalator. As soon as I land on the main floor, I run through the store and out the door — I don’t recall which door — and find myself outside on Fifth Avenue.
Bloomberg News has published a statement from President Trump in response to Carroll’s allegations, saying `I’ve never met this person in my life’:
CNN’s Daniel Dale posts a photograph of Trump and his first wife socializing with Carroll and her former husband:
I completely understand why she didn’t go to the police and file a report. And I even understand why she remained silent all of these years. This especially if you read the entirety of the released portion of her book linked in the post. But what puzzles me (and maybe I’m just old school) is: Why would she would enter the confines of a dressing room with a man she had only met on one prior occasion? Who does that? (I’ll just note here that even if their mutually playful banter was an indication that there was the hope of something happening once inside the dressing room, it would obviously never justify the actions that Carroll has alleged that Trump took against her.)
As for Trump, well, Carroll’s description of the encounter neatly dovetails with Trump’s own description of himself: :
I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said in the 2005 conversation. “Grab ’em by the pussy.”
Obviously none of know with certainty what, if anything happened between Trump and Carroll, but here’s the thing: Two women in whom she confided, have confirmed that she told them about the alleged assault. That alone matters. That alone is troubling. I hope they go public. And if the assault did happen as described by Carroll, then it should matter to Americans. And especially to those who support Trump, and are working toward his re-election. Because if an illegal act as described by Carroll took place at the hands of a man who is seeking to be re-elected as President of the United States and doesn’t matter to his supporters, then something is dreadfully wrong. Oh. Wait. What’s that? Right: We pretty much already know it won’t matter, and will be viewed as nothing more than a little blip on people’s radar. If that.
P.S. Carroll says that “the Donna Karan coatdress still hangs on the back of my closet door, unworn and unlaundered since that evening”.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)