An attorney for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump not only questioned allegations on Monday that Trump raped his ex-wife, but said marital rape did not exist, the Daily Beast reported.
This story has been updated. Please see below.
“You’re talking about the front-runner for the GOP presidential candidate, as well as private individual who never raped anybody,” Trump Organization executive vice-president Michael Cohen said. “And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse. It is true. You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
However, the “marital rape exemption” in New York state was struck down by the state Supreme Court in 1984.
Cohen, who is identified as a special counsel for the organization, was discussing a Daily Beast report regarding a “violent assault” by the former reality show star against former wife Ivana. A deposition describing the incident was documented in the book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, published in 1993. The encounter reportedly concerned what Trump felt was a botched scalp-reduduction procedure by a plastic surgeon who had operated on her in the past.
After complaining, “Your f*cking doctor has ruined me,” author and Harry Hurt III wrote, the real estate mogul attacked his wife and ripped clumps of hair from her scalp before doing the same to her clothes.
“Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified,” Hurt wrote. “It is a violent assault. According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, ‘He raped me.'”
According to the Daily Beast, Trump denied the allegation that same year, calling Hurt — a former Newsweek reporter — “an unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person.” On Monday, Cohen said she was referring to being “raped emotionally.”
“She was not referring to it [as] a criminal matter, and not in its literal sense,” Cohen argued. “Though there’s many literal senses to the word.”
The terms of the couple’s divorce settlement in 2001 included a provision under which Ivana Trump would require her ex-husband’s permission before discussing their marriage. The book also contains a statement attributed to her describing the incident as the couple having “marital relations in which he behaved very differently toward me than he had during our marriage.”
“As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited towards me, was absent,” the statement read. “I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.”
On Monday, Cohen also allegedly threatened to “come after” Daily Beast reporter Tim Mak and take them “for every penny you still don’t have.”
“I’m warning you, tread very f*cking lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f*cking disgusting,” Cohen reportedly said. “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.”
Update, 11:01 p.m. EST: ABC News reported that the Trump campaign responded to the report by calling the rape allegation “old news and [that] it never happened.”
Response from Trump campaign / re: @thedailybeast piece tonight on rape comment – "it is old news and it never happened"# p #15_22 # ad skipped = true #
— John Santucci (@JTSantucci) July 28, 2015# p #16_22 # ad skipped = true #
The campaign also downplayed Cohen’s role, saying, “Nobody speaks for Mr. Trump, but Mr. Trump.”
.@realDonaldTrump campaign: “Nobody speaks for Mr. Trump, but Mr. Trump” distancing comments made by counsel "you cannot rape your spouse."# p #19_22 # ad skipped = true #
— John Santucci (@JTSantucci) July 28, 2015# p #20_22 # ad skipped = true #
The response came hours after Cohen appeared on CNN billed as a spokesperson for the candidate.