President Donald Trump said Friday that he “never met” a New York advice columnist and author who claims that he sexually assaulted her in the dressing room of a high-end New York department store in the 1990s.
In a statement, Trump said “there is zero evidence” to support longtime Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll’s account of a chance meeting with Trump at Bergdorf Goodman that she says ended with assault.
Carroll recounts the episode in an upcoming memoir, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, an excerpt of which was published in New York magazine earlier in the day.
“I’ve never met this person in my life,” Trump said in the statement. “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”
The article includes a photo of Trump and Carroll, along with their then-spouses at an NBC party around 1987.
In the book, Carroll says that she ran into Trump while shopping in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996, and he asked her for advice on a gift “for a girl,” joking with her about a lacy bodysuit as she heads toward the dressing room.
“The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips,” she writes.
She added that he then unzipped his pants, “forcing his fingers around my private area” and “thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me.”
Read More: These Are the Women Who Have Accused President Trump of Sexual Misconduct
Carroll’s allegations are the most serious yet against Trump of sexual misconduct. Eighteen other women have come forward to publicly describe incidents in which Trump kissed them without their consent, grabbed their breasts or put his hand up their skirts, at times with little warning and in public places.
Trump called his accusers liars and threatened to sue them after the election. He did not, though he currently faces a defamation suit from one of the women, former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos.
In the statement, Trump argued that false sexual assault allegations are “an epidemic,” an argument that he made during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, when he said that it was a “a very scary time for young men in America.”
“Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda,” he said in the statement. “It’s just as bad for people to believe it, particularly when there is zero evidence. Worse still for a dying publication to try to prop itself up by peddling fake news — it’s an epidemic.”
Shortly before the election, the Washington Post obtained a tape of Trump with “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush in which Trump said that his celebrity has given him an opening to assault women.
“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. You can do anything,” Trump was recorded saying. “Grab them by the p—y. You can do anything.” During the second presidential debate on Oct. 10, 2016, Trump described his words on the tape as “locker room talk,” and apologized to his family and the American people. “I’m not proud of it,” he said.
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