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Trump seeks to have 'Access Hollywood' tape barred from defamation trial

The move comes as newly unsealed portions of Trump's deposition in the lawsuit showed him defending his 2005 comments that "when you're a star, they let you do anything."
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Columbia, S.C.
Former President Donald Trump speaks in Columbia, S.C. on Jan. 28.Alex Brandon / AP file

Lawyers for Donald Trump are seeking to bar the "Access Hollywood" tape, which prompted widespread condemnation during the 2016 presidential campaign, from being used in an upcoming defamation trial brought by a writer who alleges Trump raped her.

In a court filing Thursday night, Trump’s attorneys urged the judge presiding over writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against the former president to ban the 2005 video of Trump speaking to Billy Bush, at the time an anchor for “Access Hollywood,” as “irrelevant and highly prejudicial.”

They further argued that the contents of the the tape “do not even tangentially relate to the core of [Carroll’s] claim” that Trump raped her in the changing room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s and then lied about his actions when Carroll went public with her accusation.

Court filings from Carroll show Trump defending his “Access Hollywood” comments in a deposition he gave last October. Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, has argued that Trump’s remarks in the 2005 video — which were caught on a hot mic and became public in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign — help show that what allegedly happened to her client was not “an isolated act.”

In the video, Trump can be heard saying, “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful women — I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said, including “grab ‘em by the p----.”

Asked in the newly released portion of his October deposition if it was accurate that he had made those remarks, Trump replied, “Well, historically, that’s true with stars,” according to Carroll’s court filing.

“True with stars that they can grab women by the p----?” Kaplan asked. Trump responded, “Well, that’s what — if you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”

Asked if he considered himself a star, Trump responded, “I think you can say that, yeah.” He also maintained his comments in the video were the same as he characterized them after they became public in 2016: “locker room talk.”

Trump told Kaplan during the deposition that the matter was “very heavily litigated during the campaign, and as you probably heard, I won.”

“At the end, the public said that’s the one we want for the president,” Trump added.

Kaplan declined to comment Friday on Trump’s effort to bar the “Access Hollywood” tape from the trial, which is scheduled to start in April. An attorney for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the former president’s latest filing.

Carroll sued for defamation after Trump in 2019 accused her of lying about being raped, arguing she did so to promote her book and make money. Carroll said she was inspired to come forward by the Me Too movement.

In a separate lawsuit, Carroll sued Trump in November after New York implemented a law allowing alleged victims of sexual assault a one-year window to file civil claims that would otherwise be time-prohibited by the state constitution.

A federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., is currently weighing a key aspect of the defamation case: whether Trump is protected from legal claims for comments he made while he was president.

The judge presiding over both cases in New York has set a late April trial date for the two lawsuits. In a Feb. 7 ruling, the judge said he would decide whether to consolidate the two cases at a later date.

Trump has called Carroll’s rape accusations a “hoax“ and accused her of being a “whack job.”

In another excerpt from his October deposition released last month, Trump confused a picture of Carroll from the 1990s with his then-wife Marla Maples. The comment potentially threatens to undercut Trump’s repeated denials that Carroll is “not my type.”