- Day five of the E. Jean Carroll trial started with testimony from the writer’s friend Lisa Birnbach.
- Birnbach said Carroll called her minutes after her alleged rape by Donald Trump in the mid-1990s.
- Birnbach said she urged Carroll to go to the police, but Carroll refused.
A close friend to E. Jean Carroll testified Tuesday that the writer had called her “five to seven” minutes after the she left a Bergdorf Goodman’s dressing room where she said Donald Trump raped her in the 1990’s.
From the witness stand in Manhattan federal court at the trial against the former president, Lisa Birnbach — who is a writer herself and best known for penning “The Official Preppy Handbook” — said that Carroll told her on the call that she ran into Trump at the luxury department store. Carroll told Birnbach she was helping him shop for a friend, when he led her to a dressing room, pinned her against the wall, and penetrated her with his penis, she testified.
Birnbach said she was feeding her two young children dinner at the time, and walked out of the room to speak further with Carroll.
“I whispered, ‘E. Jean, he raped you,'” Birnbach recalled on the stand.
She said that Carroll didn’t use the term “rape” at all during the call, instead describing it as a “fight.”
Birnbach said she encouraged Carroll to go to the police, but Carroll was adamant she didn’t want to report the alleged assault. Carroll was “hyperventilating” and appeared to be “still processing” while recalling the alleged rape, Birnbach said.
“No, no, no, I’m not going to the police,” Birnbach recalled Carroll saying.
Birnbach said she even offered to go to the station with Carroll and host her at her home for the night, but that her friend was adamant.
“I just want to go home,” Carroll said, according to Birnbach’s recollection.
Birnbach said their phone call only lasted three to four minutes and, at the end of it, Carroll made her promise never to bring up the incident again or tell anyone else.
She said she honored that wish, and that the two never spoke about the alleged assault again until 2019, when Carroll decided to go public with the story in her book, “What do we need men for?”
Carroll also includes in the book accounts of being molested by a camp counselor and groped by former CBS chairman and CEO Les Moonves. (Moonves denied the account. He stepped down from his position at CBS in 2018 amid multiple sexual assault allegations.)
Birnbach said she was unaware of the two other alleged assaults when she read the book, but said she wasn’t surprised Carroll hadn’t confided in her about these incidents previously.
“E. Jean is a very up person. She’s not a victim. She doesn’t want pity from anyone … I think it was the way she was raised,” Birnbach said. “Instead of wallowing, she puts on lipstick, brushes herself off, and moves on.”
Trump’s lawyers say he’s a political target
Trump has denied the incident at Bergdorf Goodman ever happened, said he never met Carroll, and called her a liar — prompting her to sue him for defamation and battery. The trial began last week, and Carroll finished testifying on Monday.
The ex-president’s legal team has argued that Carroll invented the rape accusation, and suggested that she was motivated to do so because of his political positions.
Birnbach recalled she hosted an election night party in November 2016, which Carroll attended, and recalled being in dismay that Trump had raced ahead of Hillary Clinton in the election results. She testified on Tuesday, however, that Carroll’s accusations about Trump weren’t on her mind at the time.
Trump’s lawyers have also suggested that Carroll was motivated by money, wanting to sell her book, where she detailed her accusation against Trump. In cross-examination, an attorney for Trump pointed to events where Birnbach and Carroll appeared together in 2019 to sell their respective books.
E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump.
Birnbach noted that Carroll was denied a traditional promotional book tour, unable to travel to different cities because of “security concerns.”
“The concern was for her safety because followers of Mr. Trump were harassing her,” Birnbach testified.
Birnbach was also questioned about a series of negative comments she made about Trump on her own podcast, Facebook, Twitter, and in interviews with other podcasters.
She called Trump a “slimeball” and “Russian agent” and, in one interview, described him as “an infection like herpes that we can’t get rid of.” In one interview, Birnbach said she hoped that a deluge of lawsuits and legal investigations would stop Trump from running for president again.
“The guy had done a lot of bad things and I was hoping at some point that he would account for them,” Birnbach said.
However, she said her decision to voluntarily testify during the trial was purely to support Carroll.
“I’m here because my good friend had something terrible happen to her and as a result she lost employment and her life became very, very difficult,” Birnbach said. “I want the world to know that she’s telling the truth.”
In 1996, when Birnbach first heard Carroll’s allegations against Trump, he wasn’t known as a political figure, she said.
“My friend wasn’t assaulted by a president,” Birnbach said. “She was assaulted by a guy — a real estate guy.”