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Donald Trump mistook rape accuser E Jean Carroll for his ex-wife in photo, potentially undermining his defence

Fomer president reportedly set to return to Twitter (AP)

Donald Trump mistook writer E Jean Carroll, who has accused him of sexual assault, with his former wife Marla Maples when a photo was shown to him during a deposition, according to newly unsealed court documents.

The former president was shown a black-and-white photograph of a small group of people, including Mr Trump and Ms Carroll, as per an excerpt from a deposition that took place in October 2020 at Mar-a-Lago.

"That's Marla, yeah. That's my wife," Mr Trump said, referring to his former wife. The blunder was corrected by his lawyer Alina Habba, who told him it was Ms Carroll and not Ms Maples.

Ms Maples, a singer and an actress, was married to the former president from 1993 to 1999 and is the mother of his youngest daughter, Tiffany.

The former president's comments under oath potentially undermine one of his common defences that he has repeatedly used to deny the allegations. Mr Trump has claimed that Ms Carroll was not his “type", suggesting he would not have pursued her.

The black-and-white photo from the 1990s has been reportedly circulating since the author made the allegations against the then-president in 2019. Mr Trump had previously said that he was often introduced to people at events that he didn’t know.

Ms Carroll had alleged in a 2019 memoir - What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal – that Mr Trump raped her in either 1995 or 1996 in the dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan, close to the Trump Tower.

She sued the former president for defamation after he denied her claims by saying she was “not his type”.

The testimony of Ms Carroll, who wrote her “Ask E Jean” column in Elle magazine from 1993 to 2019, was made public last December, with the former president’s part redacted.

But this week, Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York said the court would unseal “all previously redacted portions” of the document.