NEW YORK — Two women have confirmed that the writer E. Jean Carroll told them in the 1990s that she’d been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump in the dressing room of a New York City department store.
The women, both journalists who were friends with Carroll, spoke publicly for the first time to The New York Times in a podcast released Thursday.
Carol Martin, a former news anchor on WCBS-TV, and Lisa Birnbach, a writer and author of the best-selling book “The Official Preppy Handbook,” said they had opposite reactions when Carroll told them of her alleged encounter with Trump at Bergdorf Goodman.
Carroll, a feature writer and longtime Elle advice columnist, said that she had run into Trump at the store and was helping him shop for a gift when he pushed her up against a dressing room wall, unzipped his pants and forced himself on her. Carroll said she used her knee to distance herself and got out of the room.
“I may have tried to hit him with my purse; I don’t know,” she said on the podcast.
Birnbach said Carroll called her right after the alleged incident, “breathless and laughing.”
Birnbach initially laughed along. “I remember her saying repeatedly, ‘He pulled down my tights … which got me to think that was as far as it went,” she said.
Then more details emerged as Carroll described being penetrated.
“And I said, ‘What? He raped you?'” Birnbach said. “I said, ‘Let’s go to the police,'” she recalled, but Carroll refused.
Martin said she spoke with Carroll within a few days.
She recalled that her friend seemed to be “handling it” on her own. “She doesn’t break down easily.”
“I said, ‘Don’t tell anybody,'” Martin said.
Trump said that Carroll is “totally lying” and that the story is completely fabricated.
“Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened,” Trump told The Hill in an interview at the White House.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that while she has respect for women coming forward, she’s not focused on the accusations and doesn’t see Congress being involved.
“I haven’t spent any time on that,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday. She said she’s more concerned about immediate policy decisions confronting the nation. “I don’t know what Congress’ role would be in this,” Pelosi said.