What Was Trump Thinking?

“Historically, that’s true with stars,” he said during a deposition. “Unfortunately or fortunately.”

Brian Lawless/PA Wire/Zuma

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Donald Trump has never fully backed away from his infamous “grab ’em by the pussy” remark. Remember that? A hot mic in 2005 caught Trump saying the now infamous comment: “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

But on Thursday, jurors for writer E. Jean Carroll’s sexual assault and defamation lawsuit against the former president heard a portion of an October 2022 deposition in which Trump appeared to go further—standing by what he said on the Access Hollywood tape. “Historically, that’s true with stars,” he said.

When Carroll’s lawyer asked, “True with stars that they can grab women by the pussy?” Trump replied, “If you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately or fortunately.”

This was the same deposition in which Trump, as my colleague Madison Pauly reported, misidentified Carroll as his ex-wife Marla Maples. Trump had previously called Carroll “not my type.”

Trump’s nonchalance in the face of a credible rape accusation is astonishing, even for him. Yesterday, my colleague Inae Oh commented on “what has felt like a collective apathy toward the catastrophic description of a woman’s trauma.” It seems that Trump has seized on that collective nonchalance: He refused to deny that the Access Hollywood tape contained an accurate description of his behavior. During his deposition, he called his accuser “a wack job,” “sick” and “a nut job.” Even after the trial in his civil suit for defamation began, he continued posting disparaging remarks about Carroll on social media, leading a judge to threaten him with further legal repercussions.

Is Trump even aware, after so many years escaping accountability for his actions, that he could be found liable for millions in damages to Carroll’s reputation? I would pay untold sums to know just what was going through his mind.

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