Trump Is Terrible; Surrounded by Terrible People

[Content Note: Sexual assault; domestic violence; rape apologia; threats.]

In the early '90s, the entrepreneur, socialite, and author Ivana Trump, who is also the first ex-wife of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, disclosed during their divorce proceedings that Donald Trump had attacked and raped her. Her description of the incident constitutes rape, and she originally described it as rape in a deposition, although she later backed away from using the word, saying that, during the sexual interaction in question, "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. I referred to this as a 'rape,' but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense."

In covering this incident, and Donald Trump's many problematic public comments about rape, for The Daily Beast, Tim Mak and Brandy Zadrozny reached out to Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, for comment. Cohen responded:
"You're talking about the frontrunner 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," Cohen added. "You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law."
That is not accurate. Although, incredibly, it wasn't until 1993 that spousal rape had been criminalized in all 50 states, New York struck down its marital rape exemption in 1984, five years before Donald assaulted Ivana.

Which, of course, is to say nothing of the fact that spousal rape was still rape even before the law recognized it thus.

Cohen then went on to threaten the reporter, in an attempt to stop publication of the story:
Trump's lawyer then changed tactics, lobbing insults and threatening a lawsuit if a story was published.

"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," Cohen said. "So I'm warning you, tread very fucking lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be fucking 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.
Cohen went on to call the reporter to whom he was speaking "an idiot," suggest the reporter was going "to ruin [hir] life at the age of 20...and I'll be happy to serve it right up to you," and threaten a $500 million lawsuit, the serving of which would be "my absolute pleasure."

This is the way the Trump Organization gets shit done—threatening to ruin lives, to bury them in lawsuits, to do things that are "fucking disgusting" in order to silence them.

Ivana Trump did not have a comment before the story was published, but has since given a statement calling the story, despite the fact that it was based on her own deposition, "totally without merit."
"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."
Well, maybe that's true. Maybe she just made a false rape allegation against Donald Trump and somehow they're still the best of friends. Or maybe Ivana Trump, whose 1991 divorce decree "involved a gag order that keeps her from talking about her marriage to Donald Trump without his permission," is not able to say anything but that she is a liar and he is awesome.

I'm sure no one has ever threatened to do something "fucking disgusting" to her if she fails to sing Donald Trump's praises. I'm sure that's something that only happens to strangers.

I am, of course, not sure of those things at all.

But I'm not interested in trying to decide for Ivana Trump what happened to her. I'm interested in the fact that Trump's counsel feels it's entirely reasonable to intimidate members of the press, who are reporting on legal depositions, not rumors.

And I'm horrified by the fact that Donald Trump's counsel's first response was to say, wrongly, that it wasn't even legally possible for Donald Trump to rape his wife.

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