The Democratic National Committee has seized on comments made by one of Donald Trump’s lawyers that spousal rape does not exist.
Michael Cohen, who in addition to being special counsel to Trump and an executive vice president at The Trump Organization has made many media appearances on behalf of the candidate, was contacted by The Daily Beast for an article about an allegation in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump that the billionaire forced himself on Ivana Trump in 1989.
“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,” Cohen told the reporter.
“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse.” He went on to say Ivana “felt raped emotionally.… She was not referring to it [as] a criminal matter, and not in its literal sense, though there’s many literal senses to the word.”
Cohen also warned the reporter to “tread very f–king lightly, because what I’m going to do to you is going to be f–king disgusting.”
Marital rape has been a crime in New York since 1984 and in all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 1993.
Cohen issued a statement to CNN today: “As an attorney, husband and father there are many injustices that offend me but nothing more than charges of rape or racism. 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.”
“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,” Ivana Trump told the network in a statement. The Daily Beast notes that their divorce agreement included a gag order about her marriage to Trump.
Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) this morning called the Trump lawyer’s statement “a new low.”
“Rape is rape. Full stop. End of story. There is no difference or division between ‘forcible’, ‘legitimate’, ‘marital’ or any other label Republicans slap on before the word ‘rape’. All rape is a disgusting violation, and Americans have fought too long and hard for that to be acknowledged to still have it questioned in 2015,” Wasserman Schultz said.
“It’s a pattern of outrageous comments that must stop, and Republicans should call it what it is – despicable.”
None of the Republican candidates had issued a statement on the comments this morning, but they will likely face the question on the stump.