Donald Trump has claimed he never met the writer who has accused him of sexual assault – even though her story featured a photograph of them together.
The US president accused E Jean Carroll of making up the allegation and appeared to suggest she was working with the Democratic Party.
“I’ve never met this person in my life,” Mr Trump said. “She is trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.”
However, Ms Carroll’s account of the incident in New York magazine included a black and white photograph of Mr Trump talking to Ms Carroll and her then-husband John Johnson at an NBC party in 1987.
The president’s ex-wife Ivana Trump, who herself accused Mr Trump of rape during divorce proceedings in 1991 but has since retracted the claim, also appears in the picture.
Ms Carroll, a 76-year-old journalist who has written an advice column in Elle since 1993, says Mr Trump assaulted her in a dressing room of New York’s Bergdorf Goodman department store in either late 1995 or early 1996.
She describes him as “No 20 on the Most Hideous Men of My Life List” and adds: “I am surprised at how good-looking he is. We’ve met once before, and perhaps it is the dusky light but he looks prettier than ever.”
Ms Carroll says Mr Trump asked her to try on some lingerie because he needed advice on choosing a present for “a girl” before following her into a 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 in an extract of her forthcoming memoir.
She says he raped her before she managed to push him off with her knee and run out of the room.
“The whole episode lasts no more than three minutes,” adds Ms Carroll, who says she told two friends but did not report it to police.
In response Mr Trump compared her story to the allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and claimed it was “fake news”.
“Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try and get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda,” the president said in a 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.”
Mr Trump concluded: “If anyone has information that the Democratic Party is working with Ms Carroll or New York magazine, please notify us as soon as possible. The world should know what’s really going on. It is a disgrace and people should pay dearly for such false accusations.”
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