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‘Game, set and match’: Trump’s lawyer shows jurors message he calls ‘lethal’ to E. Jean Carroll’s case

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 12: U.S. President Donald Trump pumps his fist as he departs on the South Lawn of the White House, on December 12, 2020 in Washington, DC. Trump is traveling to the Army versus Navy Football Game at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.

Donald Trump is seen in a Dec. 2020 file photo. (image via Al Drago/Getty Images)

Throughout the course of trial, former President Donald Trump’s attorney has endeavored to discredit three women, not only rape accuser E. Jean Carroll.

The defense theory of the case is that Carroll fabricated the story and that two of her friends — Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin — concocted false corroboration that the “Ask E. Jean” columnist told them about the alleged sexual assault contemporaneously. Carroll claims that Trump raped her inside the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman, likely in the spring of 1996.

On Monday, Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina displayed an email from Martin that he called “lethal” to Carroll’s case.

The message, dated Nov. 30, 2021, shows an email that Martin sent to a third party after her friend Carroll decided to file sexual battery claims under New York’s Adult Survivors Act.

“It’s too hyperbolic,” Martin wrote in the message, according to the exhibit. “Too much celebratory stuff over something that hasn’t really happened. She said next she’s gonna sue T when adult victims of rape law is passed in new York State or something. WTF.”

After displaying the message to the jury, Tacopina declared it was: “Game, set and match.”

Tacopina grilled Martin on some of its contents during her testimony — but not all of it — quietly entering it into evidence. The lawyer then unveiled the full message toward the coda of his summations.

During rebuttal summations, Carroll’s attorney Michael Ferrara noted that Tacopina never asked Martin to talk about what she meant by “something that hasn’t really happened” when Martin took the stand. That’s because that phrase referred to the law, which hadn’t yet been passed — and ultimately, allowed Carroll to pursue her case by suspending the statute of limitations, according to Ferrara.

Earlier on Monday, Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan skewered Trump’s claim that Carroll, Birnbach and Martin conspired against the former president for political reasons, referring to Trump’s claim as the “Big Lie,” in a nod to the former president’s misinformation about the 2020 presidential election. Tacopina claimed that the women’s private messages among themselves and others showed their reality.

Neither Birnbach nor Martin have disguised their disdain for Trump, but both testified that they would not lie about him to damage him politically, let alone perjure themselves in that effort. Tacopina claims that private messages undermine that position.

In 2017, Martin referred to Trump as “Orange Crush” in an email mocking the then-president for botching the name of the country “Namibia” as “Nambia.”

Later on in the email chain, Martin wrote: “As soon as we’re both well enuf to scheme, we must do our patriotic duty again.” Both Carroll and Martin described that as simply colorful language, and Martin testified that she was referring to a quirky present she wanted to give to Carroll: a stuffed squirrel.

Scoffing at that response, Tacopina told jurors: “‘Scheme’ is exactly what you think it means.”

Some two years later in 2019, Carroll first publicly revealed her allegations in an excerpt of her book “What Do We Need Men For,” published in New York Magazine. Her account received widespread media scrutiny, including by New York Times journalist Megan Twohey.

Providing an update on the news article, Carroll told Birnbach at the time: “That I turned over the entire book to you when I got sick, and we agreed you would publish it when I croaked, and you never read it.” Carroll said this referred to the fact that she fell seriously ill and was in intensive care.

In 2022, after retaining counsel, Martin sent Carroll a message: “No more chats and texts until further notice,” according to Tacopina.

The Trump attorney scornfully added: “That’s Crip talk,” referring to the gang.

Ferrara praised Tacopina as a “good lawyer,” adding that he knows how to “cherry pick” the transcript and exhibits. But Ferrara added that the story rests on the notion that three accomplished women risked torching their reputations and committing a crime to bring down Trump in service of a “harebrained” scheme.

Birnbach is the author of more than 20 books, and Martin is a local TV anchorwoman.

Both of them delivered their testimony under oath, and the man calling them all liars — the former president of the United States — was absent from the courtroom throughout the trial, Ferrara said repeatedly and pointedly.

“There’s not even a ‘he said,’ because Donald Trump never looked you in the eye and denied it,” he said, as his rebuttal summation drew to a close.

The jury will consider the case for the first time on Monday afternoon.

Read Law&Crime’s account of closing arguments from Carroll’s legal team: “‘He didn’t even bother to show up’: E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer skewers absent Donald Trump and his ‘Big Lie’ as rape trial wraps

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."