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Trump makes at least one good decision in his rape trial

Photo illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

At the end of the proceedings on Tuesday, Donald Trump’s lawyer informed the Court that the former president would not testify in his own defense.

In a trial that’s going pretty badly for Trump, he’s not going to bother making a last-ditch effort to convince the jury by testifying that he didn’t rape E. Jean Carroll and then face cross-examination. Essentially, his defense now rests on the cross-examination of E. Jean Carroll by his lawyers, which was catastrophic.

Even though Trump’s decision not to testify makes the jury much more likely to rule against him, I think he and his attorneys are making the wise decision. The former president is currently indicted in New York on 37 counts of misrepresentation. He also faces an open investigation in Fulton County, Georgia, where District Attorney Fani Willis said she would disclose whether she plans to indict Trump in early summer.

Special Counsel Jack Smith is also deciding whether to seek an indictment of Trump for hoarding the classified documents discovered in his office and residence at Mar-A-Lago and/or for his role in the insurgency. January 6.

It is important to note that any statement Trump makes on the witness stand during this trial could also be used in any of these cases.

Additionally, Trump faces the theoretical possibility of a criminal indictment for the rape of E. John Carroll. In New York, there is no statute of limitations for the crime of first-degree rape. If he were to speak up and melt (like Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men), he could be indicted by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. So while choosing not to testify is a bad option, it’s probably the best bad option available to the former president right now.

Before the decision, Tuesday’s events brought even more bad news for Trump. New York Times best-selling author Lisa Birnbaum has spoken out and testified that E. Jean Carroll told her that Trump raped her in a dressing room in the lingerie department of a Bergdorf Goodman store the same day where it had happened. Birnbaum’s testimony was allowed as an exception to the hearsay rule, as it was offered to refute Trump’s claim that Carroll only recently invented the “fabrication” that she had been violated by Trump .

Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina’s terrible cross-examination gets even worse

Birnbaum’s testimony was detailed and unequivocal. She testified that Carroll spoke to her about the rape in graphic terms, which caused Birnbaum to leave the room where she was dining at her children. Birnbaum testified that Carroll told her that Trump followed her into a dressing room at Bergdorf’s, pinned her against a wall, pulled down her pantyhose, and then penetrated her with his “penis.” Birnbaum testified that she didn’t want to continue the conversation in front of her children (who were then 3 and 6), so she picked up the phone from another room for about five minutes. When she returned, she reheated the chicken nuggets she had given her children for dinner. In my experience, the chicken nugget detail is the kind of distinct memento that leads jurors to believe that a witness is providing a genuine memento.

Birnbaum’s cross-examination didn’t move his story at all. During direct questioning, Birnbaum admitted that she “hated” Donald Trump. The cross-examination simply highlighted additional examples of Birnbaum expressing his hatred for Trump, such as comparing him to “herpes”, calling him “crazy” and a “Russian agent”. In a redirect, Birnbaum said she was told Trump raped Carroll long before he was a political figure, and that she wouldn’t lie to stop Trump from being president.

Carroll also introduced Jessica Leeds, who testified that she was sexually assaulted by Trump during a 1979 or 1980 robbery when she sat next to him in first class. “It was like he had forty million hands,” she said at one point. She testified that he put his hands under her skirt and grabbed her vagina – and that she ended the assault by returning to her originally assigned seat in the coach.

Carroll’s lawyers then presented a video of Anderson Cooper questioning Trump during the 2016 Access Hollywood taping debate “grab ’em by the pussy.” During that debate, Trump denied ever grabbing a woman without consent in her vagina. Leeds testified that it made her “furious” to hear that, because he had done exactly that to her.

Trump jury hears charge of groping woman in robbery

In a final stab, Leeds testified to a final encounter with Trump, at a benefit gala in 1981, which he attended with his first wife, Ivana, who was pregnant at the time. Leeds testified that when she approached the couple, Donald turned to her and said, “I remember you, you’re that cat from the plane.” Leeds testified that she was stunned by the response and immediately left the event.

Again, the cross-examination did little to shake the damning testimony. Leeds admitted she did not know Donald Trump before he attacked her during the robbery, but was absolutely certain the man who attacked her was Donald Trump.

At the end of the day, Carroll’s attorneys informed the court that they expected to conclude their case by Thursday morning. Trump’s attorneys then revealed that Trump would not testify. Judge Kaplan said he would instruct the jury and have closing arguments on either Friday, May 5 or Monday, May 8.

Ultimately, this trial can be like “the sound of a hand clapping.” E. Jean Carroll will have testified to having been raped by Donald Trump. She will have presented many concordant witnesses. Donald Trump will not have presented any evidence on his own behalf, relying instead on the jurors not to believe the testimony of the complainant and her witnesses.

Only these jurors know what their verdict will be.

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