It seems Donald Trump's penchant for stirring up controversy with his words extends far into his organization. In a Daily Beast article released Monday, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen denied marital rape was real when asked about decades-old allegations made by Trump's ex-wife Ivana Trump. While the alleged incident from the 1990s has long been known, The Daily Beast's decision to bring it back to light elicited an aggressive and grossly irresponsible response from one of Trump's top men.
According to The Daily Beast, Cohen, who works as executive vice president to the Trump Organization and special counsel to The Donald himself, defended his boss, saying:
You're talking about the front-runner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody. 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.”
Actually, marital rape is illegal in all 50 states today, and the case People v. Liberta criminalized the act in New York in 1984, years before the alleged altercation between Trump and Ivana. To claim the law of the land allows for marital rape is egregiously incorrect (seriously, this guy is supposed to be a lawyer?), as well as irresponsible to women's rights activists and sexual assault victims seeking to end violence against women.
In its story, The Daily Beast points to particularly graphic quotes given by Ivana during the couple's divorce proceedings in the early '90s. During the deposition, which was covered in the 1993 Trump biography The Lost Tycoon by former Newsweek reporter Harry Hurt III, Ivana claimed Trump violently confronted her during their marriage after undergoing a "painful scalp reduction surgery to remove a bald spot." According to the book, Ivana had used the same plastic surgeon, and Trump blamed her when things went south on his procedure. The Daily Beast wrote:
What followed was a “violent assault,” according to Lost Tycoon. Donald held back Ivana’s arms and began to pull out fistfuls of hair from her scalp, as if to mirror the pain he felt from his own operation. He tore off her clothes and unzipped his pants.
"Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified ... It is a violent assault," Hurt writes. "According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, 'he raped me.'"
Trump, at the time, denied the allegations, telling Newsday that Hurt was "an unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person," The Daily Beast reported. And when the controversial biography hit the stands, it included a statement from Ivana, provided by Trump and his lawyers, that said she felt "violated" during the incident, yet her use of the word "rape" should not be "interpreted in a literal or criminal sense."
In a flurry of aggressive threats, Cohen also said he'd sue the online outlet should it run its story, according to The Daily Beast. (Obviously it did.)
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.
While you should definitely read the entire Daily Beast article, what makes the whole recounting more bizarre is that this information isn't new. We've heard Ivana's allegations before, yet we've let them slip by. Should we then be surprised that Trump would employ people reportedly capable of espousing terrible lies about what it means to be sexually assaulted or raped?
Rape victims can now join the ranks of Mexicans and prisoners of war as groups who have become collateral in this joke of a presidential run. Well, maybe I should rephrase that because Trump is, after all, leading GOP polls with 18 percent of the vote, according to the latest CNN/ORC survey. In that case, does that then make us the joke?
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