On Monday morning, CNN’s “New Day” anchor Alisyn Camerota interviewed Elle magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll —and it was a doozy.
Carroll, who claims in her new book that President Donald Trump attempted to sexually assault her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room more than two decades ago, changed her rationale for not pressing charges against Trump and stumbled over answers in a disaster interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota Monday.
President Trump has vehemently denied the accusations, claims he doesn’t know Carroll, and has publicly thanked Bergdorf Goodman for "confirming they have no video footage of any such incident.”
In the first part of the interview, Carroll detailed the alleged rape, telling Camerota, “When we walked into the lingerie department there was nobody there, which is strange. It was in the evening, so — and on the counter were three really fancy boxes and a see-through bodysuit. He walked right to the bodysuit and snatched it up and said, ‘Go put this on.’ Now, that struck me as so funny because here I am, a 52 — I am not going to put — my idea was — I said, ‘No, you put it on.’ And he said, ‘No, it looks like it fits you.’ I said, ‘No, it goes with your eyes.’ So I am spinning a comedy scene in my head.”
“Of course, banter back and forth. I get it,” Camerota added.
“But you see how funny that would be to make him —,” the accuser said.
“Yes,” the CNN anchor answered. “Yes. And you, by the way, used to be a comedy writer on ‘Saturday Night Live.’ … You were engaging in this banter as I think many of us would, because you didn't know what violence was about to unfold, and you could never have known that.”
“No, I had —,” Carroll interjected, adding, "How would I know that.”
“Of course,” Camerota agreed.
Camerota then suggested to Carroll that Trump raped her — beyond what Carroll herself has contended during the interview.
“And this is beyond sexual [assault]. I mean, legally, he raped you,” the CNN anchor said, before running a clip of the infamous leaked Access Hollywood tape wherein Trump brags to then-host Billy Bush that beautiful women allow him to “grab ‘em any the p****” because of his fame. It appeared as if Camerota were working to coach Carroll into making a more concrete accusation against the president.
Camerota then asked about Carroll's potential political motivations in accusing the president of sexual assault.
“Did you consider, in 2016 when Donald Trump was running for president and other women were coming forward with stories, accusations about sexual assault, did you consider speaking out then?” asked Camerota.
“No, because they were doing the job. They were coming forward. There were an army of women. It was — they were coming forward, so I sat back and let them,” Carroll oddly answered, adding that she thought the alleged rape was her fault: “I was going to come forward I'd have to say it was — I was stupid, I was — I was a nitwit. I allowed this. So my frame of mind was not the best.” In the past two years, Carroll has apparently changed her mind.
When asked if she would press charges against Trump, since she apparently still has the dress she wore during the alleged attack, Carroll claimed she would not because the statute of limitations has since run on the incident.
“This is the greatest police department in the world. The detectives are great in New York,” said Carroll. “The thing is, it's past the time. It's — experts — I've been talking to experts and they say that we've passed the legal —.”
“The statute of limitations,” chimed in Camerota.
“Yes, thank you,” answered the accuser.
“Yes. There was a statute of limitations in place at the time that this happened in late 1995 or '96 that has since changed. And, Mayor de Blasio, when he heard your story, said that he would pursue, on your behalf, an investigation,” Camerota said. “And so, you have the dress that you were wearing. You don't, I'm sure, still have the tights. But, would you consider doing that?”
Again, Carroll said she would “consider it” but noted the statute of limitations.
Two days ago, however, Carroll told MSNBC that she would not press charges because it would be “disrespectful” to immigrant women being "raped around the clock" at the United States-Mexico border.
It's in the last portion of the interview, though, that things got really wild.
Carroll stumbled over her thoughts, talked about putting Trump in her book, and theorized about other women who have come forward with sexual assault allegations. She also seemed to claim that she has received threats of harm — and even death — for coming forward.
At one point, the interview became so difficult to manage, Camerota began asking prying questions.
“Now, today, what do you want to say to Donald Trump?” asked Camerota.
“That terrifies me that you said that. That is — that is —,” stumbled Carroll.
“At the thought of confronting him?” asked the CNN anchor.
“No,” Carroll answered. “I — you know, you just stunned me by saying that. It terrifies me, although I think I could — I think — yes.”
“You think that you could confront him now? I mean, what part scares you?” Camerota followed-up.
“Well, will you go with me, Alisyn? Seriously,” said Carroll. “You know, listen, that is a — that is a terrible situation. Even a question just terrifies me. Look at me, I can hardly talk now that you said that.”
“What part?” Camerota asked. “What part terrifies you?”
“Well, it puts — it reveals to me what I'm in the middle of doing, is what it does. That's — you made it very clear what I'm in the midst of doing and —.”
"And you thought when you included those 11 pages in the book that it wouldn't get this amount of attention?” pressed Camerota. “Why?”
“He was only one of 21 hideous men, you know,” the Elle columnist said.
“But it is the President of the United States. You didn't know the onslaught that you would be in the middle of right now? I mean, you are talking about the President of the United States and you are accusing him of sexual assault,” Camerota said.
Carroll then said she would go back on her past advice to women about coming forward because it’s been so hard on her. “I put my reputation on the line, I put my livelihood on the line. … and I put my life on the line,” she claimed.
“You've gotten death threats?” asked Camerota.
"I am not looking at death threats. I — the reason why I appear to be a happy woman is because I'm not reading this stuff. I am staying out of it,” Carroll backtracked.
“But have you been told you've gotten death threats?” the CNN anchor asked. “People who read this for you have told you that you've gotten death threats and that makes you feel?
“Ah, I'm an archer. I have bows and arrows, you know. Fine — I think there's just too — never mind — never mind,” Carroll ambiguously responded.