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Haberman: Trump is personally bothered by the E. Jean Carroll case
01:41 - Source: CNN

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of an alleged assault.

New York CNN  — 

A friend of E. Jean Carroll testified Tuesday that the former magazine columnist called her within minutes after being allegedly raped by Donald Trump in a New York department store in 1996, as the rape and defamation trial against the former president continues.

Lisa Birnbach recounted how Carroll called her minutes after leaving the department store and told her about the incident in detail. Carroll, she said, sounded “breathless, hyperventilating, emotional. Her voice was all kinds of things” when she called.

“He pulled down my tights, he pulled down my tights,” Carroll repeated on the phone, according to Birnbach. “Like she couldn’t believe it. She was still processing what happened to her. It had just happened to her.”

Following the court’s adjournment, Trump’s lawyer confirmed to the judge that the former president will not appear to testify in his own defense.

On the stand Tuesday, Birnbach said she recalled she was feeding her young children in her kitchen at the time when Carroll called and walked out of the room to whisper “‘E. Jean he raped you. You should go to the police.’” Carroll described the incident with Trump as a fight, she didn’t want to hear the word “rape,” Birnbach said.

“It sounded like a physical fight she tried to get free from him and she did not want me to say that word,” Birnbach testified. Carroll refused to go to the police and made her friend promise never to speak of it again.

After the phone call that lasted just a few minutes, the two never spoke about it again until 2019, according to Birnbach. “It was her life, her story, not my story. She clearly didn’t want to tell anybody what happened and I honored that.”

She never checked in with Carroll about how she was holding up, Birnbach added. “Well because I had made a promise to her not to bring it up not to discuss it and certainly not tell anybody so I put it - I buried it and as life went on it was easier to not think about it.”

Carroll is suing Trump, alleging he raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then defamed her when he denied her claim, said she wasn’t his type and suggested she made up the story to boost sales of her book. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

After Birnbach publicly identified herself in 2019 as Carroll’s friend referenced in Carroll’s book, Birnbach said she gave a few media interviews to support Carroll. “Because I was telling the truth, because my friend was telling the truth and I felt strongly that I could be a supportive friend.”

Birnbach acknowledged that she doesn’t like Trump and has spoken out publicly against him at length on social media and on her podcast. On cross-examination, Trump’s attorney W. Perry Brandt read a long list of such posts.

Trump will not make court appearance

As both parties previewed that they could rest their respective cases by Thursday evening, Judge Lewis Kaplan asked Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina following the day’s proceedings whether his client would come to court to testify or otherwise. Trump is not required to attend the proceedings as a defendant in the civil trial.

Tacopina confirmed Trump will not make an appearance in the Manhattan federal courtroom, which is on par with earlier guidance from his legal team.