Advice columnist E. Jean Carroll — who claimed President Donald Trump sexually assaulted her over two decades ago — on Monday filed a lawsuit accusing Trump of defamation over his denials of the alleged incident, the Hill reported.
What's the background?
Carroll claimed in a New York magazine story in June that Trump assaulted her in the dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan sometime in late 1995 or early 1996.
Her first-person piece said she and Trump joked about trying on lingerie and then went to a dressing room after which he "thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I'm not certain — inside me."
Carroll claimed she was able to fight off Trump but never went to police about the alleged attack and told two friends instead. She also kept the dress she wore at the time the alleged incident occurred, posing in the outfit for New York magazine.
At the time Carroll's allegation hit the news, the White House released a statement calling her story "completely false and unrealistic." Later Trump released a personal statement categorically denying Carroll's allegations, saying he's never met her and connecting the release of her then-upcoming book to her allegations.
Caroll also said in an MSNBC interview regarding her Trump allegation that she would not pursue rape charges because it would be "disrespectful to the women who are down on the border who are being raped around the clock, down there without any protection."
Her defamation suit against Trump says he "accused Carroll of lying about the rape in order to increase book sales, carry out a political agenda, advance a conspiracy with the Democratic Party, and make money. He also deliberately implied that she had falsely accused other men of rape. For good measure, he insulted her physical appearance," the Hill reported.
The outlet also noted that the president said in an exclusive interview that Carroll was "totally lying" and that "she's not my type."
While Trump said he never met Carroll, she included a photo of him and her, along with their then-spouses, at a 1980s party.
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Monday's lawsuit alleges that Trump's subsequent statements have caused Carroll "emotional pain and suffering" as well as harm to her career. The lawsuit claims that the president's comments "caused Carroll to lose the support and goodwill of many of her readers," alleging that the writer has received roughly half as many letters for her advice column a year later.
Carroll said in a statement that she had filed the lawsuit to hold Trump accountable "for lying" and "for every woman who's been pinched, prodded, cornered, felt-up, pushed against a wall, grabbed, groped, assaulted, and has spoken up only to be shamed, demeaned, disgraced, passed over for promotion, fired, and forgotten."
The legal standard for defamation requires the accused party to have knowingly made false and damaging statements.
What was the White House's reaction to the lawsuit?
"Let me get this straight: Ms. Carroll is suing the president for defending himself against false allegations?" press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement, the Hill reported. "I guess since the book did not make any money she's trying to get paid another way."
Grisham also said "the lawsuit is frivolous, and the story is a fraud — just like the author," the outlet noted.
About a week after her allegations against Trump went public, Carroll told Vanity Fair she once sexually harassed the late former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes.
"Oh, I did it. Every day I had a chance," she said of her sexual harassment of Ailes. "I call him the pearl of his sex."
"Right on the air. I roll up my trouser legs. I would wait for the camera to come over. Then I would slowly pull up the right and then the left trouser leg. It would say Roger Ailes. I would say, 'He's my future husband.' It never stopped. I'd ask him to twirl for me," Carroll said in the interview.
She also addressed in the Vanity Fair interview controversial comments she made to CNN's Anderson Cooper asserting that "most people think of rape as being sexy."