“I moved on her very heavily … I moved on her like a bitch.”––Donald Trump in 2005
Today The Atlantic begins “I Moved on Her Very Heavily,” publishing the first in what will be an ongoing series of interviews by E. Jean Carroll with women who, like Carroll, alleged that they have been sexually harassed or assaulted by Donald Trump. Carroll’s interviews will run regularly up until the November 3 election.
You may think you know these stories, but you’ve never heard them like this, or in such intimate, expansive detail. As the interviews accumulate, so too does the weight of each woman’s own lived experience and accusations against the president––who, unlike so many other powerful men, has remained unscathed by the #MeToo recknowing. Carroll writes: “Nineteen, or 25, or 43 women have come forward to accuse Trump of ogling, grabbing, groping, mauling, or raping them. The women say they dodged, ran, froze, ducked, resisted, or laughed at him; and we all stood up, spoke out, got dragged through the mud, belittled, and besmirched.”
Carroll’s voice—at turns raucous and searingly direct—combines with those of her fellow accusers to form a stirring chorus of condemnation against the man they say degraded them. “Oh yes, surprised reader, we accusers scream with laughter,” Carroll writes in today’s launch essay. We read of shock, disgust, hurt, violation, and yes, laughter. We learn how each woman tried to grapple with the alleged assault at the time, and how each, ultimately, decided to go public with her accusation.
“Sometimes it seems as though Americans have collectively accepted that there are dozens of credible accounts of sexual misconduct against the president of the United States,” says Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic’s executive editor. “These allegations have largely receded from public view. E. Jean Carroll’s work is a reminder that we cannot look away, and we shouldn’t.”
Carroll’s first interview is with Natasha Stoynoff, who says the president assaulted her in 2005 when she visited Mar-a-Lago as a reporter on assignment to profile Trump and his wife, Melania, for People magazine. Stoynoff tells Carroll that when she arrived late to a massage appointment one morning at Mar-a-Lago, the masseuse was panicked. “I assume it’s because I’m late,” she tells Carroll. “So I say, ‘Look, I’m sorry! I’ll pay for the whole hour. Don’t worry about it!’” But the masseuse, by now a heap of shattered nerves, replies: “No, it’s not that. Mr. Trump was here waiting for you.”
The introduction to the series is shared below in full, and appears in the lead to the first interview. Please be in touch with questions or requests to speak with The Atlantic or Carroll about this reporting.
Introduction to ‘I Moved on Her Very Heavily’ by E. Jean Carroll
Published today at The Atlantic.
In her 2019 memoir, What Do We Need Men For?, E. Jean Carroll accused Donald Trump of rape, in a Bergdorf’s dressing room in the mid-1990s. After the president denied ever meeting her and dismissed her story as a Democratic plot, she sued him for defamation.
Carroll was not, of course, the first woman to say that Trump had sexually harassed or assaulted her, but unlike so many other powerful men, the president has remained unscathed by the #MeToo reckoning. Which might seem surprising, until you remember Trump’s modus operandi: He escapes the consequences of one outrage by turning our focus to another, in perpetuity.
So in the run-up to the November 3 election, Carroll is interviewing other women who alleged that Trump suddenly and without consent “moved on” them, to cite his locution in the Access Hollywood tape. “I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them, it’s like a magnet ... And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy.”
Who are the people who came forward to say that Trump treated them exactly as he described: as fungible collections of body parts to paw at whenever it suited his purposes? Why did the women decide to tell their stories, and what has life been like since? Carroll’s lawsuit remains in progress; the president has denied all of the women’s allegations, and the White House declined to comment for this story.
Natasha Stoynoff, the subject of this first installment, likens herself and her fellow accusers to the proverbial canaries in the coal mine: among the first to warn the world about the essential nature of the 45th president of the United States.