Return to Transcripts main page


E. Jean Carroll Says Trump Sexually Assaulted Her. Aired 7:30- 8a ET

Aired June 24, 2019 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:05] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: At least 15 women have accused President Trump of sexual misconduct or assault before his time in office. President Trump has vigorously denied all of those allegations.

Well, now, the author, E. Jean Carroll, goes further. She says Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in 1995 or early '96. E. Jean writes about this account in her forthcoming book, "What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal."

She joins me now. E. Jean, great to see you.


CAMEROTA: Let's just describe what happened 23 years ago, OK?

So, in the book, you describe this encounter with Donald Trump. You recognized him, he recognized you, of course. This was in late '95 or '96. And he enlisted you to help buy a present for his girlfriend, though he was married at the time, by the way.

CARROLL: He didn't say girlfriend. It was -- it was -- she was a mystery woman.

CAMEROTA: He said for a --

CARROLL: A girl.

CAMEROTA: -- a girl.

CARROLL: A girl.

CAMEROTA: He needed help to buy something for a girl.


CAMEROTA: And it was all fairly playful.

CARROLL: Oh, it was charming.


CARROLL: It was excite -- remember what Donald Trump was like in '95- '96. He was like a Shakespearean character, walking up and down the street.

Always had a word for everybody. Well, you remember, Alisyn. He greeted everybody.

CAMEROTA: I remember him well. He was charming -- absolutely.

CARROLL: Charming.

CAMEROTA: So this was all fun and games. You were laughing along --

CARROLL: I loved it.

CAMEROTA: -- pointing out different gifts that he could buy.


CAMEROTA: He suggests --

CARROLL: -- hats, handbags.

CAMEROTA: Exactly. At some point, he suggests lingerie and he sort of leads you --

CARROLL: Well, he didn't suggest it, he shouted it.

CAMEROTA: He shouted it.

CARROLL: Lingerie!

CAMEROTA: Lingerie.

CARROLL: But he should -- he could have said underwear. I can't remember. Anyway, I got the idea.

CAMEROTA: And so, you are playing along. At some point, he gets you into a dressing room and that's --

CARROLL: Well, that was -- that's the key here.

CAMEROTA: Yes, tell me.

CARROLL: When we walked into the lingerie department there was nobody there, which is strange. It was in the evening, so -- and on the counter were three really fancy boxes and a see-through bodysuit. He walked right to the bodysuit and snatched it up and said, "Go put this on."

Now, that struck me as so funny because here I am, a 52 -- I am not going to put -- my idea was --

I said, "No, you put it on." And he said, "No, it looks like it fits you." I said, "No, it goes with your eyes." So I am spinning a comedy scene in my head.

CAMEROTA: Of course, banter back and forth. I get it.

CARROLL: But you see how funny that would be to make him --


CARROLL: -- put that on?

CAMEROTA: Yes. And you, by the way, used to be a comedy writer on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE."


CAMEROTA: You were engaging in this banter as I think many of us would --


CAMEROTA: -- because you didn't know what violence was about to --

CARROLL: No, I had --

CAMEROTA: -- unfold, and you could never have known that.

CARROLL: How would I know that --

CAMEROTA: And -- of course. And so --

CARROLL: -- although I thought I was pretty stupid.

CAMEROTA: Well, I mean, I understand that afterwards, in retrospect, you blame yourself. Many women in this situation do.

However, you go into the dressing room and you think that he's going to hold it up against him.


CAMEROTA: And then, it gets violent.

[07:35:00] CARROLL: Well, the minute he went like this, I preceded him into the dressing room. The minute he closed that door I was banged up against the wall.

CAMEROTA: He slammed you against the wall?

CARROLL: Yes and hit my head really hard -- boom.

CAMEROTA: And you point out that he's a tall, big person and he pinned you --

CARROLL: Six-three.

CAMEROTA: -- in some way. CARROLL: Well, I'm a tall person, too. I was six-one in my heels and I was a competitive athlete. So, you know, when somebody shows you -- the thing is it shocked me, it -- for a moment, I was stunned, right, and then he tried to kiss me, which was -- it was so --

But -- so my reaction was to laugh to knock off the erotic whatever he had going on because a man, when you laugh at him, he's like oh, no. You know, he just went at it.

CAMEROTA: And when you say went at it -- you know, I mean --

CARROLL: He pulled down my tights and it was a fight. It was a -- I want women to know that I didn't not stand there, I did not freeze. I was not paralyzed, which is a reaction that I could have had because it's so shocking. No, I fought.

And it was over very quickly. It was against my will, 100 percent. And I ran away -- out.

CAMEROTA: And he pinned you -- I mean, just without getting overly graphic, he pinned you against the wall, he --

CARROLL: Yes, he held his shoulder against me.

CAMEROTA: He put -- he put his shoulder against you.

CARROLL: And he is -- you're right. He is -- you made that point.

CAMEROTA: He is much bigger than you are. I mean, not just tall -- I mean in terms of --

CARROLL: Yes, he was -- yes.

CAMEROTA: -- his massiveness.

And so, he pinned you against the wall, he ripped off your tights, and --

CARROLL: Not all the way off, just down.

CAMEROTA: Down. He pulled down his pants.

CARROLL: No, just unzipped.

CAMEROTA: He unzipped his pants.

And this is beyond sexual. I mean, legally, he raped you.

CARROLL: I don't use the word. I have difficulty with the word. I see it --

CAMEROTA: Because you think that it is --

CARROLL: -- as a fight.

CAMEROTA: Yes. CARROLL: I just -- I don't -- you know.

CAMEROTA: I understand. But you see it as a fight and you don't want to be seen as a victim, and I totally get that.

CARROLL: I don't want to be seen as a victim because I over -- quickly, over it -- went past it. It was a very, very brief episode of my life -- very brief. I am not faced with sexual violence every single day like many women around the world.

And so, yes, I'm very careful with that word.

CAMEROTA: I understand.

CARROLL: I like you -- you will use it. You're an --

CAMEROTA: Well, here is the situation. I understand that you don't want this to define you, of course. Who would?

But I am saying legally, it was rape. It's unambiguous. What you describe in the book, it was rape.

And that actually goes further than the 15 women who came forward during the campaign who -- to say that they -- they described situations very similar to what you experienced. Him getting them into a room, him pinning them against a wall, him forcing a kiss on them.


CAMEROTA: But yours actually goes further in terms of being legally, rape.

CARROLL: (Silence).

CAMEROTA: That's what it was.

CARROLL: (Silence).

CAMEROTA: And so, when you heard Donald Trump in the infamous "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" tape sort of foreshadow this or at least explain himself to Billy Bush -- let me just remind people of how he described encounters like this. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (2005): I better use some Tic Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I'm automatically attracted to beautiful. I just start kissing them.

It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait.

And when you're a star, they'll let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH, FORMER CORRESPONDENT, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Whatever you want. TRUMP: Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.


CAMEROTA: What did you think when you heard that?

CARROLL: It knocked me back. I felt relief and I -- that's right, that's right.

CAMEROTA: You felt relief that that was confirmation, basically -- you felt.

So, as you know, since you came forward, the president has denied all of this. Let me read to you his statement.

He says, on Friday, "I've never met this person in my life.

She's trying to sell a new book. That should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.

No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around?

I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming they have no video footage of any such incident because it never happened."

Your response?

CARROLL: Well, what is the title of this book? "What Do We Need Men For?" Does it say Donald Trump attacked me?

I never mentioned Donald Trump in the description of the book. On Amazon, you don't see it. It was not about selling a book about Donald Trump.

By the way, men never get the -- male authors never get this question.

CAMEROTA: About are you just trying to sell books?

CARROLL: Yes, of course.

CAMEROTA: But, I mean, beyond the bookselling part, he denies that it happened.

CARROLL: Oh, well --

CAMEROTA: He also denies that he met you, though there is picture --

CARROLL: I know.

CAMEROTA: -- of you two having met. I think that what he's mean -- what he has said is that that was just in passing at a party.

[07:40:03] But here's the picture of you two. This is your -- that was your ex-husband. And so, there's photographic evidence of you having met Donald Trump. CARROLL: Right.

CAMEROTA: But he is denying that --

CARROLL: Well, that is his -- with all the 15 women who -- or 16 who have come forward, it's the same. He denies it, he turns it around, he attacks, and he threatens. That is the -- and then everybody forgets it and then the next woman comes along.

And I am sick of it. I am -- Alisyn, I am sick of it.

Think how many women have come forward. Nothing happens. The only thing we can do is sit with you and tell our stories so that we empower other women to come forward and tell their stories because we have to change this culture of sexual violence.

CAMEROTA: I do want to ask you why you didn't come forward in 2016 during the campaign, but hold that thought. We have much more of our conversation with E. Jean Carroll, next.


[07:45:14] CAMEROTA: Author E. Jean Carroll claims that President Trump attacked her at a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the late 1990s, an accusation the president denies.

E. Jean Carroll is back with us.

OK. So, at the time that it happened you immediately -- you say, you immediately told two professional women -- friends of yours -- two journalists.

CARROLL: Both journalists, right.

CAMEROTA: One of them told you to go to the police immediately.

CARROLL: Right after I came out of Bergdorfs, I called her. And, first of all, she had to tell me to -- Alisyn, she had to tell me to stop laughing.

CAMEROTA: Because that was your reaction.

CARROLL: That was the state of mind --

CAMEROTA: You were, like, nervous.

CARROLL: The adrenalin was still pouring. And so, that was my reaction.

She said twice, "E. Jean, this is not funny." I didn't even realize I was laughing. And then, she said, "He raped you. You have to go to the police."

And when you're in that state, you can't make a decision. She said, "I will go with you. We must go to the police." I couldn't -- it was -- I could not think of taking any action at that moment. CAMEROTA: And you called another professional female friend of yours.

CARROLL: No, I saw her at work.

CAMEROTA: You saw her and she had the opposite reaction. And what was that?

CARROLL: She said, "E. Jean, tell no one. He has 200 lawyers. He'll bury you."

CAMEROTA: And you opted to go with that one, right? I mean, you opted to tell no one.

CARROLL: Of course, no. That's the -- yes.

CAMEROTA: Do you regret that?

CARROLL: I can't replay it. You can't go back and replay it. I'm not -- I can't be the terminator. I -- no.

You know, all I can do is learn to go forward and speak out to try to change things. That's all I can do now.

CAMEROTA: Did you consider -- in 2016 when Donald Trump was running for president and other women were coming forward with stories, accusations about sexual assault, did you consider speaking out then?

CARROLL: No, because they were doing the job. They were coming forward. There were an army of women. It was -- they were coming forward, so I sat back and let them.

Also, I thought it was my fault and when I -- if I was going to come forward I'd have to say it was -- I was stupid, I was -- I was a nitwit. I allowed this. So my frame of mind was not the best.

CAMEROTA: So, President Trump denies all of this, as we've said, and he suggests that now it's political. He is ramping up for his next political campaign.

And here's what he has said.

"If anyone has information that the Democratic Party is working with Ms. Carroll --

CARROLL: (Laughing).

CAMEROTA: -- or 'New York Magazine', please notify us --


CAMEROTA: -- as soon as possible. The world should know what's really going on. It's such a disgrace and people should pay dearly for such false accusations."

CARROLL: There's the threat.

CAMEROTA: Is it politically motivated now?

CARROLL: I'm barely political. I'm barely -- I can't name you the candidates who are running right now.

I -- no, I am not political. I am not organized. It is the last thing.

All I want to do -- well, I'm just fed up. I'm just fed up with what's been going on with the women in this sexual -- we have --

I can't believe that he is in the White House and it makes me sick. What else can I do but just tell my story?

CAMEROTA: You have said that the dress -- the coat dress that you were wearing -- and we have a picture of it because you were on the front page "New York Magazine". This is the -- exactly the outfit that you were wearing the day that you say the attack happened.

You have kept that dress. You've never worn it again, you say. Have you ever dry-cleaned it?


The thing is, you -- we all have dresses -- you just hang them in the closet. Something bad -- you didn't have a good time wearing it and you never put it on again because it's just a bad luck dress. I never felt like putting it on again.

I did not turn it into a talisman, I didn't wrap it in plastic, I didn't think. I just didn't want to put it on again.

CAMEROTA: I guess my question is could there be any DNA on there?

CARROLL: I have no idea. I do not know if the president ejaculated. I have no idea.

CAMEROTA: I guess the reason I'm asking is because the mayor of New York City -- Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, of course, is running against President Trump, has said that if you were to bring a case forward -- if you -- he will pursue it. He will have the New York City Police Department pursue it.

So, do you want to pursue this legally?

CARROLL: This is the greatest police department in the world. The detectives are great in New York.

The thing is, it's past the time. It's -- experts -- I've been talking to experts and they say that we've passed the legal --

CAMEROTA: The statute of limitations.

CARROLL: Yes, thank you.

CAMEROTA: Yes. There was a statute of limitations in place at the time that this happened in late 1995 or '96 that has since changed. And, Mayor de Blasio, when he heard your story, said that he would pursue, on your behalf, an investigation.

And so, you have the dress that you were wearing. You don't, I'm sure, still have the tights. But, would you consider doing that?

[07:50:00] CARROLL: I'd consider it but the experts are telling me that --

CAMEROTA: So you've consulted lawyers?

CARROLL: Yes. Well, they've written to me. I have never consulted a lawyer in my life. It's not something I would do.

They have e-mailed me to tell me the that -- as you say, the statute of limitations has passed because -- I don't know the legal -- I don't want to say what -- you know, because I don't know what it is, but --

CAMEROTA: And so, what do you want out of telling this story? Obviously, you are interested in selling books.

CARROLL: I want to change the culture. I want to help women who are probably -- right this very minute women are in their homes, at work, and they are being sexually violated. And somebody has to come forward and start telling their stories.

Women are coming up to me now and saying thank you because I can't -- you know, they're explaining that they can't come forward and they're glad that I did.

So, this is -- that's what I want to accomplish. I want to change the way we see women -- that's it.

CAMEROTA: One of the ironies, I guess, of this story is that you are a well-known, amazingly popular advice columnist. Your "Ask E. Jean" column in "Elle" magazine is a must-read for so many women for so many years. And if a woman had written to you this story --

CARROLL: Oh, Alisyn, after 2016 when the Megan Twohey and the Jodi Kantor story broke in "The New York Times" times about Weinstein, my mail was flooded with women asking my advice on reporting their boss, calling the police about their husbands, they were worried about their stepchildren. And, of course, that's what made me come forward, lately, is because finally, I'm going to come clean.

Here I am advising the women what to do and I, myself, thought it was my fault and had been quiet. So, that's changing.

CAMEROTA: In your book, you talk about -- there's more than just Donald Trump. There are more men who --

CARROLL: There's 21 hideous men.

CAMEROTA: Right. You lay out 21 hideous men that you had bad experiences with. And, President Trump now uses that as evidence with look -- well, you -- clearly, you can't be trusted. Can you just frame that -- CARROLL: This book is funny. I think, Alisyn, it's a -- the book is light -- very light. A lot of the -- well, I've been on the planet among men for 76 years. The amazing thing is that there are not more hideous men lists.

A lot of it is funny. A lot of is light. I've had a fabulous life. I've run into a few bad apples and they all made the hideous men list.

CAMEROTA: But the fact that you've had other bad experiences --


CAMEROTA: -- with other powerful men, does that make your story with Donald Trump less legitimate somehow?

CARROLL: No, no. It just means that I lead an adventurous life. I'm out among the men. I -- you know, I don't think it's that unusual.

I do not think someone who was born during World War II, like me, and started their careers in the 60s, 70s, 80s -- you could not walk down the New York streets in the 60s without getting hit on.

I just think that -- you know, I left the house, OK? I left the house in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

And try to go down to the subway in 1968. You could not do it without getting pinched.

So, yes, it's --

CAMEROTA: So you've seen it all and you've had that life, and things have changed in the past three years.

And so, now, today, what do you want to say to Donald Trump?

CARROLL: That terrifies me that you said that. That is -- that is --

CAMEROTA: At the thought of confronting him?

CARROLL: No. I -- you know, you just stunned me by saying that. It terrifies me, although I think I could -- I think -- yes.

CAMEROTA: You think that you could confront him now? I mean, what part scares you?

CARROLL: Well, will you go with me, Alisyn? Seriously.

CAMEROTA: (Laughs). Look --

CARROLL: You know, listen, that is a -- that is a terrible situation. Even a question just terrifies me. Look at me, I can hardly talk now that you said that.

CAMEROTA: What part? What part terrifies you?

CARROLL: Well, it puts -- it reveals to me what I'm in the middle of doing, is what it does. That's -- you made it very clear what I'm in the midst of doing and --

CAMEROTA: And you thought when you included those 11 pages in the book that it wouldn't get this amount of attention? Why?

CARROLL: He was only one of 21 hideous men, you know.

CAMEROTA: But it is the President of the United States. You didn't know the onslaught that you would be in the middle of right now? I mean, you are talking about the President of the United States and you are accusing him of sexual assault.


CAMEROTA: And you've gone there.

[07:55:00] CARROLL: It's part of the culture. It's part of the hideous men thing that if -- men have ruled -- they have run things, as you know, for the last 20,000 years and I'm sick of it. It's just time that women get to run things.

CAMEROTA: But in terms of the president, who is denying every -- you know, all of your claim.

CARROLL: Of course, he's denying it -- I know.

CAMEROTA: I mean, denying that he knows you, denying that this happened in the --

CARROLL: I know.

CAMEROTA: -- dressing room. Denying that there was any attack of any kind --

CARROLL: I know.

CAMEROTA: -- whatsoever.

CARROLL: I know.

CAMEROTA: And so, are you prepared to keep fighting this to tell your story?

CARROLL: Yes, that's what I'm doing. That's exactly what I'm doing. It's the only way to change things. It's the only way.

We have to hold him accountable. Not only him but a lot of them -- a lot of guys.

CAMEROTA: And do you think that by pursuing an actual New York City Police -- because the mayor has said that because the statute of limitations has changed, do you think that that could help further your story and your case?

CARROLL: It could -- I'd consider it. But as far as I know, it -- the limitations have -- they've run out, as far as I know.

CAMEROTA: But you would consider it now?

CARROLL: I'd consider it.

CAMEROTA: And so, what -- I mean, what are we -- what is the takeaway from all of this? What is the takeaway from women who have written to you and who have read your column, and for women in 2019? What's the message to them today?

CARROLL: Well, I am wary of giving the advice that I gave yesterday to stand up and speak out because it's not fun.

CAMEROTA: Because it's not easy.

CARROLL: No. You get dragged through the mucky and it is not easy. So I am going to stop saying stand up and speak. I'm going to stop saying that.

CAMEROTA: But why? I mean --

CARROLL: It's not fun. It's not fun.

CAMEROTA: I -- well, what are you experiencing right now?

CARROLL: Nothing. Well, I am -- I have stayed off the Internet. I've got nothing but -- or it's going very well. I would never -- to go through this. It is --

CAMEROTA: Because though you're getting support, it's unpleasant, you're saying?

CARROLL: I put my reputation on the line, I put my livelihood on the line.

CAMEROTA: Your career.

CARROLL: Totally -- and I put my life on the line.

CAMEROTA: Do you think that you're going -- well, hold on a second. What do you mean you've put your life on the line?

CARROLL: Well, people have told me I have to be careful.

CAMEROTA: You've gotten death threats?

CARROLL: I am not looking at death threats. I -- the reason why I appear to be a happy woman is because I'm not reading this stuff. I am staying out of it.

CAMEROTA: But have you been told you've gotten death threats? People who read this for you have told you that you've gotten death threats and that makes you feel?

CARROLL: Ah, I'm an archer. I have bows and arrows, you know. Fine -- I think there's just too -- never mind -- never mind.

CAMEROTA: And you feel that you might lose your career as a result of speaking out?

CARROLL: Well, I -- who knows? Certainly, in the past, Donald Trump has gotten people fired left and right and makes up stories about them.

And it's happening right now. We see him on T.V. I haven't seen that. I saw it here -- and, yes.

CAMEROTA: And so, you do believe that women should speak out or you don't believe it?

CARROLL: Well -- see, now I'm in a -- I'm in a -- it's a ball of confusion. Friday, yes, women should stand up and change the culture by speaking out.

It's tough. It's tough because just -- let's say a woman who lives in Atlanta or Texas -- she wants to tell the police about her husband but that would have reverberations for her children, the children that her children go to school with, her church, her friends, you know.

So we have -- maybe you and I can come up with a plan to help women speak out with having -- without losing everything.

CAMEROTA: Well, look -- I mean, I think that every time somebody does speak out it does empower other people. I think that it is brave for you to take these risks and to speak out and to tell your story.

But, having said all of that, I also think that there are a lot of people who don't believe you and who won't believe you. And why do you think that it's possible that 15 women can come forward and say that they were sexually assaulted --

CARROLL: It's the oldest sin --

CAMEROTA: -- on some level or even worse, in the case of your story, hasn't made any impact?

CARROLL: It's never made it in years. Women have been sexually assaulted since the beginning of time. Nothing has changed.

I just -- you know -- OK, yes, things have changed. Women have risen up in the United States and we are trying to change it.

The thing about not being believed -- that's the powerful male way of keeping control of women. It's to deny, deny, deny. So, that's just control.

CAMEROTA: Well, the book, E. Jean, is called "What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal."