Carroll’s Corroborating Witnesses Tell Us Trump Is Lying, But Undermine Christine Ford’s Kavanaugh Account
When I wrote earlier this week about coverage in The New York Times of the sexual abuse allegation by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, I believed President Donald Trump was acting like a man who is hiding something, but also had several concerns about the nature of Carroll’s dramatic revelation. One of those concerns was the fact that the two corroborating witnesses mentioned in Carroll’s account, 23 years after the alleged event, had not publicly detailed their stories, or even allowed their names to be attached to the story.
That issue was finally resolved today when The New York Times released a podcast interview with Carroll and the two friends to whom she told her story back when it apparently happened (though there is still no specific date for the episode). Here are my initial takeaways from the interview, which is important and compelling.
- Carroll was more credible in this telling of her story here than in any other version so far. She provides numerous details and even acknowledges several things not helpful to the normal “rape” narrative, which no one would do, especially post #MeToo, if they were concocting an allegation for political impact.
- The two corroborating witnesses, both prominent members of the New York media establishment, while understandably sparse on details regarding something that seemingly happened around 23 years ago, appear to make it clear that there was indeed an encounter involving Trump and Carroll that was both sexual and highly inappropriate.
- One of the witnesses, who admits that Carroll was actually laughing when the call began, says that she told Carroll that she was raped and should go to the police, while the other had a more ambiguous response to Carroll’s telling of the episode.
- Carroll is still refusing to say that she was “raped,” and even indicates that she does not see what happened as being a “crime,” which Trump fans will latch on to (bizarrely, since in accepting this as true they are admitting that Trump is lying when he insists that he never even met her) as a way of “proving” that he did nothing horrible.
- There are still some red flags in Carroll’s story, specifically that it is very obvious that she re-evaluated all of her apparently horrible encounters with men (she says she has been abused by about 20 men in her life, and yet apparently never gone to the police) after the #MeToo movement exploded and changed many of the rules for interpreting them. She also appears to admit to having found “repressed memories” from childhood abuse, a concept which has been so debunked that it is not allowed in most courtrooms. I would very much like to know what role, if any, therapy has played in how Carroll came to write about her experiences.
After listening to this interview twice, I am now confident that, as I already suspected, Trump is lying about nothing having happened between him and Carroll. However, I am not 100% convinced that what happened was “rape,” at least not as it might have been understood in the late 1990s.
To be very clear, I am not remotely excusing what likely happened here, but only trying to define it properly. There is nothing in Carroll’s telling of the story which is inconsistent with a highly inappropriate encounter where Trump, being a celebrity egomaniac who thinks that a woman clearly being “charmed” by him (something to which Carroll admits) is an open invitation to make a sexual advance.
After all, as Trump infamously told Access Hollywood, “When you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
In this scenario, Trump badly misreads the situation, acts in an absurdly inappropriate manner, Carroll fights back, and Trump retreats not thinking that he had committed an actual crime. Carroll, seeing the episode much the same way, decides not to go to the police and then, only after the Harvey Weinstein story breaks, does she rethink the situation in the context of the new standards for what constitutes a sexual assault (in this interview, Carroll essentially admits that, at some level, this last part is exactly what happened).
Does this mean that Trump should somehow be let off the hook here? Absolutely not. He is obviously lying about a situation which, at best, should destroy any claim he has to Christian values and support. At that level alone, this story is significant.
There is one more aspect of this development which the liberal mainstream media will totally ignore because it doesn’t fit their agenda. That is how these corroborating witnesses for Carroll make Christine Ford’s highly controversial claim against Brett Kavanaugh so much less powerful.
If Ford had two friends like this who could have substantiated any part of her claim against Kavanaugh, there is zero doubt that his Supreme Court nomination would have been immediately withdrawn. Instead, she had absolutely zero corroboration (even from the people she says were there), despite the fact that, as Carroll’s story demonstrates, that type of evidence should be mandatory for a claim that old, with stakes so high, to be accepted as truth.
John Ziegler is a senior columnist for Mediaite. He hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issues and is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at [email protected]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.