A lawyer spokesman for Republican presidential contender Donald Trump dismissed charges of rape made during the tycoon’s divorce with a curious and false claim — that by definition, a man cannot rape his wife.
Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, made that claim to the Daily Beast in the context of an article about rape allegations made — and later considerably scaled back — by Ivana Trump in the 1990s.
Mrs. Trump made the claims in court depositions that found their way into the 1993 book “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump” by Harry Hurt III.
At the time, Mr. Trump dismissed the book as jealous smears of a talentless and ugly person. And Mrs. Trump, in a statement added to the book shortly before publication, said that while she “felt violated” and her husband’s actions that night in 1989 were not “the love and tenderness which he normally exhibited towards me,” she said that “I do not want my [use of the word ‘rape’ in the deposition] to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
But in an article posted Monday about the divorce and its rape accusations, Daily Beast reporters Tim Mak and Brandy Zadrozny reported that Mr. Cohen, an attorney, made his claim about the impossibility of marital rape. The Daily Beast also reported that he became abusive and threatened to sue and ruin the reporters personally.
“You’re talking about the front-runner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse,” Mr. Cohen is quoted as saying.
“It is true,” Mr. Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
While it was generally the law for centuries that rape could not occur within a marriage, those laws began to change in the U.S. and similar countries in the 1960s. By 1993, the year of the book’s publication, no U.S. state had a general marital exemption for rape, as Mr. Cohen said was universally the case. In New York — the state the Trump were living in at the time — the exemption was struck down in 1984.
According to the Daily Beast, Mr. Trump’s lawyer threatened a lawsuit and became personally abusive.
“I will make sure that you and I meet one day while we’re in the courthouse. And I will take you for every penny you still don’t have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know,” Mr. Cohen is quoted as saying. “So I’m warning you, tread very f—-ing lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f—-ing disgusting. You understand me?”
“You write a story that has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word ‘rape,’ and I’m going to mess your life up … for as long as you’re on this frickin’ planet … you’re going to have judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he added.
UPDATE: Mr. Cohen sent the following statement to the Daily Beast Tuesday:
“I want to clarify a statement I made to the Daily Beast. As an attorney, husband and father there are many injustices that offend me but nothing more than charges of rape or racism,” Cohen said. “They hit me at my core. Rarely am I surprised by the press, but the gall of this particular reporter to make such a reprehensible and false allegation against Mr. Trump truly stunned me. In my moment of shock and anger, I made an inarticulate comment - which I do not believe – and which I apologize for entirely.”