Donald Trump mistook E Jean Carroll, the writer who accuses him of rape, for his ex-wife Marla Maples during a deposition in the case last year, excerpts released in US district court on Wednesday showed.
“That’s Marla, yeah,” Trump said, when shown a photograph. “That’s my wife.”
The mistake was corrected by a lawyer for the 76-year-old former president. But observers said it could undermine Trump’s claim he could not have attacked Carroll because she is not his “type”.
It was not the first release of excerpts from Trump’s deposition, which happened in October. Last week, Trump was shown to have claimed Carroll “said it was very sexy to be raped”.
Carroll says Trump raped her in a department store changing room in the mid-1990s. Trump denies it.
Carroll sued Trump for defamation and under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law which allows alleged victims of historical sexual assault to bring cases within a defined timeframe.
Trump was married to Maples, the mother of his daughter Tiffany, from 1993 to 1999, between marriages to Ivana Trump, his first wife, and Melania Trump, his third and current spouse.
The photograph he thought showed Maples shows Trump in Carroll’s company in the 1990s. In his deposition, Trump said it showed a “receiving line” at an event.
In the extracts released last week, Trump said of Carroll: “She said that I did something to her that never took place. There was no anything. I know nothing about this nutjob.”
He also accused Carroll of alleging he raped her in order to promote “a really crummy book”.
To Carroll’s lawyer, he said: “I will sue her after this is over, and that’s the thing I really look forward to doing. And I’ll sue you, too.”
Trump also called Carroll “mentally sick” and falsely claimed she had talked about enjoying sexual assault.
“She actually indicated that she loved it,” he said. “OK? She loved it until commercial break. In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped. Didn’t she say that?”
Trump was referring to an interview with CNN in 2019 in which Carroll described why she preferred not to use the word “rape”, as some people think “rape is sexy”.
In Trump’s deposition, Carroll’s lawyer asked: “It’s your testimony that E Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?”
Trump said: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place. And we can define that … I think she said that rape was sexy – which it’s not, by the way.”
In her CNN interview, Carroll said: “I didn’t think of it as rape. I thought of it as a violent incident. I thought of it as a fight. And I’ll tell you how stupid … I thought I won because I got out.”
Trump is the only declared candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. A poll released on Wednesday gave him a 17-point lead over his nearest notional challenger, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis.
A trial concerning Carroll’s rape claim is due to begin in April.
Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html