In an explosive story published in The Cut Friday, E. Jean Carroll, a former advice columnist, detailed an alleged assault by President Donald Trump in the 1990s. Carroll told two friends at the time -- both of whom confirmed her account to the magazine.
Carroll writes that she ran into Donald Trump at the high-end department store Bergdorf Goodman, and that the president brought her up to the lingerie section -- under the pretext of having her help him pick out a gift -- and sexually penetrated her even though she told him no and tried to fight him off.
"I've never met this person in my life. She's trying to sell a new book," the President said in response. "It should be sold in the fiction section."
Carroll appeared on CNN Monday to talk about the incident.
She described their encounter as playful at first.
"It was charming. Remember what Donald Trump was like in '95, '96 -- he was like a Shakespearean character, walking up and down the street ... " she says. "I loved it," she admits about running into him at the store. But then he brought her to the lingerie department.
"When we walked into the lingerie department, there was nobody there. It was in the evening, so. And on the counter were three really fancy boxes and a see through body suit. And he walked up to the body suit and snatched it up and said 'Go try this on.'"
Carroll thought he was joking. "That struck me as so funny, because here I am, at 52, I am not going to be putting on .... so I said 'No, you go put it on!' and he said 'No it fits you' and I said 'No, it goes with your eyes."
They continued to banter, and she says it felt like a funny comedy scene. But the fun ended when they walked into the dressing room. She says he slammed her violently into a wall, hitting her head. "It shocked me. For a moment I was stunned."
She tried to defuse the situation by laughing -- turning it back into a comedy routine -- but it didn't stop him. "He just went at it," she says.
"He pulled down my tights and uh ... it was a fight" she says. "I did not freeze, I was not paralyzed -- which is a reaction that I could have had, because it was so shocking. I fought," Carroll says. "It was over very quickly. Against my will, 100 percent. And I ran away."
Carroll went on to explain that she has trouble using the word rape, because she doesn't want to be defined as a victim. She emphasizes that she did not let the incident define her. But the CNN anchor noted that her description meets the legal definition of rape.
The two then moved on to Trump's reaction. The president claims the incident never happened, that they'd never met and that she was just trying to sell books, which echoes the president's reaction to previous accusations.
"He denies it, turns it around, he attacks and he threatens," she said. "I am sick of it. Think about how many women have come forward -- nothing happens," she says. "We have to change this culture of sexual violence."
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