E. Jean Carroll, who has accused the former president of raping her, has finished her cross-examination. On Tuesday, her lawyers called witnesses to bolster her case.
During her testimony in the civil trial against former President Donald J. Trump, E. Jean Carroll told the jury that she had called a friend immediately after leaving the department store where she said he had raped her in the mid-1990s. On Tuesday, that friend took the witness stand.
“I am here because my friend, my good friend, who was a good person, told me something terrible that happened to her, and, as a result, she lost her employment and her life became very, very difficult,” said Lisa Birnbach, an author and journalist.
“I want the world to know that she is telling the truth,” Ms. Birnbach added on the trial’s fifth day in Federal District Court in Manhattan.
Ms. Birnbach’s testimony came after Ms. Carroll had undergone two days of cross-examination by Joseph Tacopina, Mr. Trump’s lawyer. Mr. Trump, who has avoided coming to court, has denied all wrongdoing.
After testimony ended Tuesday and the jury was sent home, Mr. Tacopina told the judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, that Mr. Trump would not be coming to court to testify.
“It is his call — you understand that?” Judge Kaplan said.
“I understand that,” Mr. Tacopina replied.
“He understands that, right?” the judge added.
“Correct,” Mr. Tacopina said.
Ms. Carroll said she was leaving Bergdorf Goodman one evening in the mid-1990s just as Mr. Trump was entering the store. He recognized her and persuaded her to help him shop for a gift for a female friend. She said the former president went on to attack her in a dressing room in the lingerie department.
The Phone Call
Ms. Birnbach testified that she was in her kitchen feeding her children dinner at around 6 p.m. in the spring of 1996 when she got a call from Ms. Carroll.
“She said, ‘Lisa, you’re not going to believe what happened to me,'” Ms. Birnbach testified. She said Ms. Carroll sounded “breathless, hyperventilating, emotional.”
As she listened to the story, Ms. Birnbach said she found it surprising Ms. Carroll had visited the lingerie department with Mr. Trump. “I thought it was kind of nutty,” she said.
“E. Jean said to me many times, ‘He pulled down my tights, he pulled down my tights,’ almost like she couldn’t believe it,” Ms. Birnbach testified about the call. She described how Ms. Carroll told her that Mr. Trump penetrated her with his penis.
Ms. Birnbach said she ducked into another room, so her children would not overhear her, and whispered to Ms. Carroll, telling her that she had been raped and should go to the police. Ms. Birnbach said Ms. Carroll told her she wouldn’t and asked Ms. Birnbach never to speak again about what she had told her. Ms. Birnbach testified that they hadn’t talked again about what was shared on that phone call until 2019.
Motivation in Question
During Ms. Birnbach’s cross-examination, a lawyer for Mr. Trump, W. Perry Brandt, zeroed in on her political leanings.
Ms. Birnbach, a Democrat, willingly acknowledged making campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton and Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Mr. Brandt also spent several minutes delving into a podcast Ms. Birnbach hosted from 2018 to 2021. He read excerpts from transcripts of episodes in which Ms. Birnbach called Mr. Trump “an infection like herpes that we can’t get rid of,” “Vladimir Putin’s agent” and “a narcissistic sociopath.”
After an objection from Shawn G. Crowley, one of Ms. Carroll’s lawyers, Mr. Brandt explained that his line of questioning was meant to demonstrate bias.
“Oh, really?” Judge Kaplan responded sarcastically, eliciting a rare laugh from the otherwise poker faced jurors.
The Airplane Flight
Jessica Leeds, a former stockbroker who said Mr. Trump assaulted her on an airplane in the late 1970s, also testified Tuesday afternoon. Ms. Carroll’s attorneys called her to establish Mr. Trump’s “modus operandi.”
Ms. Leeds said she had been flying home to New York when a flight attendant invited her to first class. She testified that there was one empty seat — next to Mr. Trump.
Ms. Leeds, who said she didn’t know Mr. Trump, shook hands and spoke with him briefly. Then “out of the blue,” Ms. Leeds said, Mr. Trump “decided to kiss me and grope me.”
“It was like he had 40 zillion hands,” Ms. Leeds said, adding that he put his hand up her skirt. She said she “exerted force” and wriggled away before returning to her original seat.
Some years later, Ms. Leeds said, she was at a charity event in Manhattan when she ran into Mr. Trump and his wife at the time, Ivana. They approached the table where she was volunteering. Mr. Trump said he remembered her, addressing her with a vulgar, anatomical epithet.
Ms. Leeds said she went public with her accusation in 2016 during Mr. Trump’s presidential run. And the jury was shown a video of Mr. Trump denying her allegation, telling a crowd at a rally, “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.”