Former US President Donald Trump has been questioned under oath for a lawsuit brought by a magazine columnist who says he raped her in a department store changing room.
In a 2019 book, E Jean Carroll accused Mr Trump of raping her at the New York department store Bergdorf Goodman.
But the ex-president angrily denied her claim, said she was “totally lying” and the allegation was “a hoax”.
In her defamation suit, Ms Carroll, an advice columnist for Elle magazine and sometime TV agony aunt, said Mr Trump’s statements had harmed her reputation.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump gave a deposition under oath, which gave Ms Carroll’s lawyers a chance to interrogate him about the assault allegations.
His legal team worked for years to delay his deposition in the lawsuit, which was filed when the Republican was still president.
A federal judge last week rejected Mr Trump’s request for another delay, saying he couldn’t “run the clock out on plaintiff’s attempt to gain a remedy for what allegedly was a serious wrong”.
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His lawyers have not commented on the deposition.
In a recent statement, Mr Trump denied even knowing the writer.
“I don’t know this woman, have no idea who she is, other than it seems she got a picture of me many years ago, with her husband, shaking my hand on a reception line at a celebrity charity event,” he said.
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Credibility and character attacks
Anything Mr Trump said during his deposition could potentially be used as evidence in an upcoming civil trial.
He hasn’t faced any criminal charges related to Ms Carroll’s allegations, and any prosecution is unlikely.
The deadline for criminal charges over alleged sexual assaults that occurred in the 1990s has long expired.
Similar legal deadlines also applied to civil lawsuits claiming sexual assault. As a result, Ms Carroll chose to sue Mr Trump for defamation over comments he made in 2019 when he denied any wrongdoing.
She maintains her reputation was damaged by his denials and attacks on her credibility and character.
However, New York lawmakers recently gave people a one-year window to take old sexual assault claims to civil courts.
Ms Carroll’s lawyer has told the court she intends to file such a suit against Mr Trump after that window opens in late November.
According to Ms Carroll’s account, she bumped into Mr Trump as the two were shopping at the Bergdorf Goodman store across Fifth Avenue from Trump Tower.
At the time, Ms Carroll was on television as the host of an advice program, “Ask E Jean.”
She said the two engaged in friendly banter as she tried to help him pick out a gift. But when they were briefly alone in a dressing room, she alleged he raped her.
Ms Carroll’s lawsuit comes as the ex-president faces a criminal investigation by the Justice Department for retaining government records at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after leaving office in January 2021.
And last month, Mr Trump and three of his children were also served with a lawsuit alleging “years of bank, tax and insurance fraud”.