Ex-White House Press Secretary Recalls Trump’s Oval Office Test About E. Jean Carroll

Stephanie Grisham also examined former first lady Melania Trump’s reported role in her husband’s attacks on the advice columnist.

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham has recalled the moment when then-President Donald Trump stared her down in the Oval Office and told her — following writer E. Jean Carroll’s accusation that Trump raped her in the 1990s — that “All you do is deny in these situations, Stephanie. You just deny everything all the time, right?”

“I remember specifically feeling like that was a test for me because he stared me down when he asked me that,” Grisham told MSNBC’s Alex Witt on Sunday.

Trump “knew, of course, I was very close to Melania [Trump] at the time,” added Grisham, who also served as chief of staff and press secretary to the first lady during the White House years. She has since become a vocal critic of her former boss.

Trump, the front-runner for the 2024 Republican president nomination, was ordered last year to pay Carroll $5 million after a jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation. On Friday, a second jury ordered him to pay Carroll $83.3 million for defamatory comments he made about the writer when he was president.

Grisham said that Trump’s attacks on Carroll were straight “out of his playbook” of “trying to undermine” anyone who goes against him.

Witt asked if Melania Trump was the former president’s “target audience in all of this” with his denials and attacks on Carroll.

“I think so. It’s my understanding that she has been really pressuring him to go out there and defend himself in this particular case,” she replied. “So I think absolutely that he’s probably trying to defend himself with her.”

Grisham added, “But he’s running for president, so he’s wanting to make sure that he’s using this to his advantage, ... fundraising off of it and whining about how the system is so stacked against him.”

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