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Trump’s lawyers won’t present defense witnesses in trial over E. Jean Carroll rape allegation

Lawyer Joe Tacopina told the judge he would not have any witnesses, while attorneys for Carroll played jurors parts of Trump's sworn deposition from October.
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Former President Donald Trump will not present defense witnesses in the civil trial over allegations he raped writer E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s, his attorney told the judge Wednesday.

Trump initially had an expert witness lined up to try to rebut Carroll's claims in the case, but the witness is unable to testify because of "health issues," Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina told U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan.

The expert was one of only two people on the defense's witness list before the trial in federal court in Manhattan. The other was Trump.

Tacopina told Kaplan at the end of court Tuesday that Trump wouldn't be testifying. “It is his call,” Kaplan replied.

The jury did, however, hear directly from Trump later in the day, when lawyers for Carroll played parts of the videotaped deposition he sat for in October. In one clip, Trump called Carroll's allegations "ridiculous." He said: "It's the most ridiculous, disgusting story. It was just made up."

More of the deposition is expected to be played for the jury Thursday.

Trump has denied Carroll's accusations that he raped her in a Manhattan department store and called her claims a "hoax" and a "con job." Carroll is suing him for battery and defamation. Trump maintains he didn't defame her because he's telling the truth.

Carroll testified that she never reported the attack to the police because she felt ashamed and was scared of taking on a wealthy businessman. She said she was inspired to speak out in 2019 because of the #MeToo movement.

She sued last December after a newly passed law in New York allowed a one-year window for adult victims of sexual offenses to file civil suits, even if the statute of limitations on their claims had expired, as it had for Carroll.

Testifying Wednesday was Natasha Stoynoff, a former People magazine reporter who has claimed Trump accosted her in late 2005 while she was working on a story about him and his family at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Stoynoff became emotional as she described the subject of the story: the approaching first anniversary of Trump's marriage to Melania Trump and the impending birth of their first child.

She said she was preparing to interview the couple when Melania Trump had to change clothes from the photo shoot for the story. After his wife stepped away, Stoynoff said, Trump offered to show her a "great room" in the estate.

Stoynoff said she followed Trump into a room and was looking around it when he closed the door and "pulls me against the wall and starts kissing me."

She said she pushed him away and "he came at me again and I shoved him again."

"He was kissing me, and he was against me and pulling my shoulder back," she said, adding she "didn't say a word." "I cried," she said. "I was flustered and shocked."

She said the attack went on for "a few minutes" until they were interrupted by a butler who told them: "Melania is done changing, and it is time to come back."

As they were leaving, she said, Trump told her, "We are going to have an affair."

Stoynoff said she interviewed the couple on "auto-pilot" and asked to be taken off the Trump beat at the magazine afterward. She said that while she told her immediate supervisor what had happened, she didn't say anything publicly because she was worried it would cause problems for the magazine and she feared Trump would try to "destroy" her.

She said she decided to go public in October 2016, after Trump denied that he would kiss women without their consent during a presidential debate.

Jessica Leeds, who said Trump accosted her on an airplane in the 1970s, testified Tuesday.

Trump has also denied both women's accounts.

Carroll is expected to rest her case Thursday, and jury deliberations are expected to begin next week. Carroll is seeking unspecified money damages.