Donald Trump's lawyers threaten lawsuit over ex-wife's alleged sexual assault claims
Donald Trump is riding high in the polls at the moment but being the front-runner for the GOP nomination has increased scrutiny on his personal life and past.
Following his controversial remarks about Mexican immigrants, in particular accusing them of being "rapists," the focus has shifted to the time when Trump's ex-wife Ivana used the word "rape" to describe an incident between the then married couple in 1989.
The Daily Beast reports that Ivana Trump's assertion of "rape" came up in the couple's blockbuster divorce case that was tabloid fodder in the early 90s. Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen pushed back, telling the Daily Beast that: "You're talking about the front-runner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as private individual who never raped anybody. And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse."
Cohen added: "It is true. You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law."
See photos of the pair's relationship:
Ivana's graphic deposition in the divorce case is revealed in the book "Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump" by Harry Hurt III. She said that the couple had a heated argument over a botched scalp reduction surgery Trump had had, and she described how Trump's "violent assault" included tearing out clumps of her hair and then tearing off her clothes.
Hill writes: "Then he jams his penis inside her for the first time in more than sixteen months. Ivana is terrified -- It is a violent assault ... According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, 'he raped me.'"
The 1990 divorce was granted on the grounds of Trump's "cruel and inhuman treatment" of Ivana. The settlement involved a gag order that keeps Ivana from talking about her marriage to Trump without his permission.
Trump has previously denied the allegations in Hill's book, calling them "obviously " and further describing the author as an "unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person" when speaking to Newsday in 1993.
In further comment to the Daily Beast, Trump's lawyer Cohen said "It's not the word that you're trying to make it into," adding that "she 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."
After being challenged on his claim about spousal rape -- the marital rape exemption in New York was struck down in 1984 according to the Daily Beast -- Cohen threatened epic legal action if the 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 then goes on to threaten the Daily Beast with a multimillion dollar lawsuit similar to the one they hit Univision with after they pulled out of televising Miss America following his controversial immigration comments, as well as threaten the authors Tim Mak and Brad Zadrozny.
"[T]here is nothing reasonable about you wanting to write a story about somebody's usage of the word 'rape,' when she's talking [about] she didn't feel emotionally satisfied," he said.
He added: "Though there's many literal senses to the word, if you distort it, and you put Mr. Trump's name there onto it, rest assured, you will suffer the consequences. So you do whatever you want. You want to ruin your life at the age of 20? You do that, and I'll be happy to serve it right up to you."
"I think you should go ahead and you should write the story that you plan on writing. I think you should do it. Because I think you're an idiot. And I think your paper's a joke, and it's going to be my absolute pleasure to serve you with a $500 million lawsuit, like I told [you] I did it to Univision," Cohen said.