A federal judge will allow the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which former President Trump bragged about groping women without their consent to be presented as evidence at the upcoming trial in April for the civil rape lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll against Trump.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled on Friday that the Access Hollywood tape may be introduced at trial, as well as the testimony of two witnesses — Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds — who each have also claimed that Trump sexually assaulted them.
Carroll alleges in her lawsuit that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman in New York City in the mid-1990s and said that her reputation was damaged in 2019 when Trump denied raping her.
Trump has repeatedly referred to Carroll’s claims as a “lie” and a “hoax.” She has sued Trump for defamation.
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Trump’s attorney Joseph Tacopina did not have a comment.
In his ruling, Kaplan said the Access Hollywood tape suggests that Trump has previously sexually assaulted women, which satisfies the legal requirement to introduce the tape as evidence Carroll’s legal team may use to establish that Trump has a propensity for sexual assault.
“In this case, a jury reasonably could find, even from the Access Hollywood tape alone, that Mr. Trump admitted in the Access Hollywood tape that he in fact has had contact with women’s genitalia in the past without their consent, or that he has attempted to do so. And that conclusion is supported by the other evidence discussed below,” Kaplan wrote.
In the tape, which aired nationally during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump bragged about kissing and groping women while chatting with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush. The former real estate developer and reality TV star also used vulgar language and discussed trying to have sex with a married woman.
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“I moved on her and I failed,” Trump said. “I’ll admit it … She was married … And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, ‘I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.’”
“I’ve gotta use some tic tacs, just in case I start kissing her,” Trump recounted after seeing the actress Arianne Zucker on the set of the soap opera on which he was to appear. “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
“And when you’re a star they let you do it,” Trump continued. “You can do anything.”
Kaplan also will permit Stoynoff and Leeds to testify about their own claims of sexual assault against Trump at trial.
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Leeds said that Trump assaulted her on a flight from Texas to New York in 1979, touching her and attempting to kiss her without her consent.
“Mr. Trump has claimed that Ms. Leeds is a liar and that no such event over occurred. And he will be entitled to make that argument to the jury,” Kaplan wrote. “But that is not now the issue. Even considered alone, Ms. Leeds’ account, if credited by the jury, reasonably could be regarded as describing unconsented-to sexual contact by Mr. Trump and also as an attempt by Mr. Trump to bring at least his hands, and perhaps other parts of his body, into contact with Ms. Leeds’ genitalia, in each case in violation of federal law.”
He offered a similar analysis of claims made by Stoynoff, a former writer for People magazine, who said Trump sexually assaulted her during a visit to Mar-a-Lago, kissing her and groping her without her consent.
“Moreover, the Access Hollywood tape and the testimony of Ms. Leeds are additional evidence that a jury would be entitled to consider in deciding whether to infer that the ultimate goal of Mr. Trump’s alleged actions with Ms. Stoynoff was to bring his hands or other parts of his anatomy into contact with Ms. Stoynoff’s most private parts,” Kaplan ruled.
“To be sure, the Court does not now draw any such inference. And Mr. Trump has denied publicly any such occurrence ever happened. He of course will be entitled to do so before the jury. And the jury could credit Mr. Trump’s testimony in preference to Ms. Stoynoffs. But that is for another day. The Court’s only function at this stage is to decide whether the evidence of record is sufficient for a jury reasonably to conclude that Mr. Trump at least attempted to have contact with Ms. Stoynoff that, if it had occurred, would have met the requirements of Rule 413(d). That standard has been satisfied.”
Kaplan previously ordered Trump to sit for a deposition in the case on Oct. 19, 2022.
The defamation trial is scheduled to start on April 25. It is one of many legal issues Trump faces as he campaigns for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump is also being investigated for hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have an affair with him before he became president, and faces investigations into his finances, attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election and alleged mishandling of classified documents.
Fox News’ Adam Sabes contributed to this report.
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