The Slatest

Trumps Downplay Rape Accusation as Campaign Tries to Disavow Hysterical Lawyer

Ivana Trump at a fashion show in New York in September 2014 in New York City.

Craig Barritt/Getty

Noting that complaints about Mexican rapists are a centerpiece of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the Daily Beast published a piece Monday about his ex-wife Ivana’s accusations—reported in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon—that Trump had raped her during their marriage. At the time of the book’s publication Ivana admitted in a statement to having used the term “rape” during a deposition to describe the incident in question but said that, though she “felt violated” by what happened, she did not believe rape had occurred in a “literal or criminal sense.” Responding to the Beast’s inquiries in the present day, a Trump lawyer named Michael Cohen claimed erroneously that legally there’s no such thing as raping your spouse (non-consensual marital sex is illegal in every state) and threatened to sue the Beast for $500 million, telling a reporter for the site that “what I’m going to do to you is going to be fucking disgusting.”

Well, that was yesterday! Today is for damage control. First, a statement from Ivana Trump that doesn’t actually deny that she made the accusations, which would be tough for her to do since she’s admitted in writing to having done so:

I have recently read some comments attributed to me from nearly 30 years ago at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald. The story is totally without merit. Donald and I are the best of friends and together have raised three children that we love and are very proud of. I have nothing but fondness for Donald and wish him the best of luck on his campaign. Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president.

Trump’s campaign is also trying to distance itself from Cohen, though such efforts should be treated skeptically, as CNN explains:

A second campaign source toed the same line and pushed back against the notion that Cohen is a surrogate for the campaign … Both sources emphasized that Cohen is employed by the Trump Organization and not the campaign.

Cohen has not only repeatedly appeared on TV to support Trump’s presidential campaign, but he has also provided statements in response to political reporters’ inquiries about Trump campaign controversies. Cohen sent CNN a statement via email earlier this month when Trump’s official Twitter account posted photo of men in Nazi uniforms.

“Mr. Trump speaks for Mr. Trump and nobody but Mr. Trump speaks for him,” one campaign representative told CNN, which is funny because the campaign’s concurrent denial that Donald Trump had raped Ivana Trump—the accusation was a “standard lawyer technique” that was “used to exploit more money from Mr. Trump,” a statement said—was also attributed to a spokesperson rather than to Trump himself.

Cohen himself has also sort-of apologized in a statement to CNN:

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.

It’s not clear exactly what Cohen doesn’t “believe” and is apologizing for, since his diatribe was less a “comment” than a series of inaccurate legal opinions and unhinged meltdown threats.