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‘He raped you’: Writer friend says E. Jean Carroll told her Trump rape claims about 5 minutes after it happened

E Jean Carroll and Lisa Birnbach

E Jean Carroll and Lisa Birnbach. (Photos left to right: AP Photo/John Minchillo and YouTube screengrab)

Some five minutes after then-private citizen Donald Trump allegedly raped her, E. Jean Carroll picked up the phone to tell her friend what she said happened, according to testimony from a key witness on Tuesday.

Prolific author Lisa Birnbach, who has written 22 books, is one of two woman Carroll says that she told that Trump sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s. She took the stand on Tuesday, immediately following Carroll’s three-day stint on the witness stand.

“I’m here because my friend, my good friend, who’s a good person, told me something terrible that happened to her, and as a result, she lost her employment and her life became very difficult,” Birnbach declared at the tail end of her roughly hour-long testimony. “I’m here because I’m her friend, and I want the world to know that she was telling the truth.”

As Birnbach tells it, Carroll appeared to be “full of adrenaline” and may have been laughing. Birnbach narrated what Carroll described as her “fight” with Trump inside the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman sometime in 1996.

The broad outlines of the story have been told several times over the course of Trump’s ongoing civil rape trial. Carroll says Trump recognized her as she left the store and said: “Hey, you’re that advice lady,” and she recalled responding: “Hey, you’re that real estate tycoon.” Trump allegedly sought Carroll’s advice on a present for a woman, and Carroll says they went back into the store. Carroll claims that Trump picked up racy lingerie and that the two of them bantered about who would try it on in the dressing room.

Birnbach told a jury she was “surprised” by those details.

“I thought it was kind of nutty,” Birnbach said. “I didn’t think it was dangerous because I had just spent a few days with him. He didn’t strike me as dangerous.”

Earlier in her testimony, Birnbach recounted writing a profile of Trump’s designs for his Florida country club Mar-a-Lago. Birnbach said that she flew on Trump’s jet and spent a couple of days there, following Trump around with a recorder and a handful of cassettes. She testified that she planned to run the piece with “stream of consciousness” reflections of the tour, and the piece ran as a cover story in New York Magazine on Feb. 12, 1996.

After Carroll allegedly told her Trump penetrated her with his penis, Birnbach says she told her friend: “He raped you.” Birnbach told jurors that she offered to take Carroll to the police, but she said Carroll didn’t want to go.

Stating Carroll “did not like” the word “rape,” Birnbach quoted her saying: “We had a fight.”

“She said: ‘Promise me that you will never speak of this again, and promise me you’ll tell no one,'” Birnbach said. “And I promised her both of those things.”

Birnbach testified the topic did not come up again for decades, and that the two didn’t speak about it again when Trump was elected in 2016. Only when Carroll sent her an excerpt of her book three years later did the subject come up again, she said.

At the time, Birnbach said, she thought that Carroll was writing a “travelogue.” She says she read the excerpt to find the account of Trump’s alleged rape, referring to Birnbach anonymously as the friend Carroll told. Birnbach said that Carroll informed fact-checkers at New York Magazine about her identity, but Birnbach said she wanted to remain anonymous to avoid the wrath of Trump’s supporters.

Birnbach testified that this fear came true after she eventually went public in the New York Times and attached her name in media interviews, which she said led her to receive “pretty awful, antisemitic messages” on Twitter.

During gentle questioning by Carroll’s attorney Shawn Crowley, Birnbach openly acknowledged her profound dislike for Trump.

Asked if she called Trump “a narcissistic sociopath,” Birnbach replied: “That sounds right.”

“Have you described him as Vladimir Putin’s agent?” Crowley asked.

“It’s quite possible that I did,” Birnbach agreed.

Trump’s attorney W. Perry Brandt highlighted Birnbach’s other swipes at the former president, including on the podcast of Alexandra Pelosi, the daughter of the former Democratic Speaker of the House.

As Brandt offered one of those exhibits, he told the judge would submit it as “evidence of bias.”

“Oh, really?” Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wryly remarked.

Brandt and spectators in the galler laughed at the line.

Trying to depict Carroll as financially motivated, Brandt showed Birnbach an email she sent regarding Carroll’s book tour. “The main thing is to SELL BOOKS!!” she wrote. Birnbach noted that is how writers make money, and she added later that Carroll could not tour herself because of security concerns.

“The concern was for her safety because followers of Mr. Trump were threatening her,” Birnbach testified.

The next witness in the case is Jessica Leeds, who alleges that Trump groped her on an airplane. Leeds is one of 26 women who have accused Trump of some form of sexual misconduct — and two among that group who appear on Carroll’s witness list.

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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."