Donald Trump is in the headlines again for comments about rape — only it wasn’t the presidential candidate who made the remarks this time around, but rather his attorney.
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, in response to decades-old allegations resurfaced in a recent article regarding Trump’s ex-wife, said “you can’t rape your spouse.”
The comments were directed to The Daily Beast, which looked into the 1989 rape allegation that Trump violently assaulted his former wife, Ivana Trump. Trump has previously denied those accusations.
Previously, Ivana Trump issued a statement saying that she felt “violated” — treated without the usual love and tenderness — by the GOP presidential candidate, and that she did not mean to use the term “rape” literally or criminally.
Trump’s team released a statement Monday night denying the rape claim and condemning the news website. “This is an event that has been widely reported on in the past, it is old news and it never happened,” the statement read.
In response to the article, Cohen said, “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 very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”
To be sure, by law in the United States, it is possible that someone can rape their own wife — marital rape is illegal across the country.
Cohen’s comments spread across the Internet overnight.
“Most shocking part of this? Trump’s lawyer thinks it’s legal to rape your spouse. Giving Akin a run for his money,” Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted.
The statement from Trump’s team added: “It is a standard lawyer technique, which was used to exploit more money from Mr. Trump especially since he had an ironclad prenuptial agreement. It is just a way for the badly failing and money losing Daily Beast, which has been reporting inaccurately on Mr. Trump for years, to get some publicity for itself.”
A Trump spokesperson said that “Mr. Trump didn’t know of his comments,” referring to Cohen, “but disagrees with him.”
Ivana Trump early Tuesday morning said that the story is “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 3 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,” Ivana Trump said in a statement released Tuesday.
Cohen on Tuesday said he made an “inarticulate” comment.
“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,” Cohen said in a statement.
Women’s group UltraViolet deemed Cohen’s comment “disturbing” in a statement Tuesday.
“The Donald Trump team’s claims about rape are disturbing on a number of levels. Rape is rape and marital rape is not only real, but incredibly serious. You would think in the year 2015, and in a country where 1 in 5 women will be raped in their lifetimes, politicians on both of sides of the aisle would know better. Republican politicians have a history of making offensive, disgusting and just plain wrong comments on rape, and we hope they have learned from their mistakes. We call on all 2015 candidates for president to clearly and unequivocally condemn marital rape,” the group’s statement read.