Donald Trump mistook the woman accusing him of rape for his ex-wife in a photograph during a deposition last year, contradicting one of his weakest but most-used arguments for his innocence.
Since Carroll accused Trump of assault, a photograph has been widely circulated and cited as proof that the two had met before. Taken in 1987, the picture shows Trump, Carroll, and their respective spouses, at the time Marla Maples and John Johnson, talking at a party. In an excerpt of Trump’s 2022 deposition, parts of which were unsealed Wednesday, Trump mistakes Carroll for Maples.*
Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba is quick to correct him, but only after Trump repeatedly insists that Carroll is Maples. The fact that he can’t differentiate between Carroll, a woman to whom he said he wasn’t attracted, and Maples, a woman to whom he definitely was, undermines Trump’s main case for his innocence.
In another unsealed excerpt of the deposition, given in October, Trump appallingly claimed that Carroll “loved” the assault.
“She said it was very sexy to be raped,” he said. He also repeatedly said Carroll was mentally ill.
Carroll accused Trump in her memoir, released in 2019, of raping her in the Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She has sued him twice for allegedly defaming her, first in 2019 when he said she made up the rape allegation in order to sell her book, and again in November for posts he made about her on social media.
She is not the only one: At least 26 women have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault since the 1970s, all of which he was denied, and he bragged in a 2005 recording of the show Access Hollywood about grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without their consent. So far, Carroll’s case has gotten the most national attention and is one of the few to actually reach a courtroom. Trump is expected to go on trial in April.
Sexual assault is about power, not desire, and Psychology Today notes the “motivation stems from the perpetrator’s need for dominance and control.” Trump has made clear the lengths he will go to for power, from trying to bully Ukraine into digging up dirt on his political rival to lying about the 2020 election being stolen and so much more.
* This article originally misstated the year of Trump’s deposition.