Donald Trump’s presidential campaign team fired back Monday night after the Daily Beast published an explosive story highlighting decades-old comments Trump’s ex-wife made where she used the word “rape” to describe one of their sexual encounters.
Ivana Trump later clarified that she didn’t mean the term in a “a literal or criminal sense,” but rather in an emotional sense.
A spokesperson for Trump, who is currently a frontrunner in many polls of the Republican primary, provided a statement to Business Insider claiming the incident was “old news and it never happened.” They also claimed Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana Trump, made up the “rape” allegation as part of an effort to “exploit” him during their early 90’s divorce proceedings.
“This is an event that has been widely reported on in the past, it is old news and it never happened,” the Trump spokesperson said. “It is a standard lawyer technique, which was used to exploit more money from Mr. Trump especially since he had an ironclad prenuptial agreement.”
Ivana Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider on Monday evening.
The “rape” story first surfaced in the 1993 book “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” which was written by former Newsweek and Texas Monthly Reporter Harry Hurt III. In that book, Hurt wrote Ivana described a “violent assault” in a deposition that was part of the divorce proceedings and further added that she told “some of her closest confidantes” she was “raped” by Trump.
When Hurt’s book was published, Trump and his lawyers provided a statement from Ivana that was included on the first page of the biography. Trump and Ivana had reached a $US14 million cash divorce settlement two years earlier in 1991.
“During a deposition given by me in connection with my matrimonial case, I stated that my husband had raped me,” Ivana Trump’s statement said. “[O]n one occasion during 1989, Mr. Trump and I had marital relations in which 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 a 1993 interview with Newsday Trump said the story that appeared in Hurt’s book was “obviously false.”
Along with claiming the “rape” incident “never happened” and was merely an attempt by Ivana to “exploit” Trump in their divorce, the Trump campaign spokesperson also slammed the Daily Beast in the statement they provided to Business Insider on Monday.
“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,” the Trump spokesperson said.
The Daily Beast’s initial story on the “rape” allegation included Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, claiming that legally “you cannot rape your spouse.” This is incorrect. According to the Daily Beast, Cohen also threatened the site’s reporters with legal action if they published a story on the accusations.
“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?”
Business Insider reached out to the Daily Beast’s executive editor, Noah Shachtman, who provided a series of questions he has for the Trump campaign including whether they have any examples of his site reporting incorrectly on Trump.
“Did they actually provide any examples of those inaccuracies or are their media critiques as busted as their legal interpretations?” Shachtman asked.
Shachtman also questioned Cohen’s behaviour and whether Trump shares his attorney’s views on rape.
“I’d like to know if Mr. Trump also feels that marital rape is not a crime. … We stand by our reporting,” Shachtman said, before adding, “If this was such old, nothing news why is the Trump campaign moving so aggressively to squash it? Why did they threaten our reporter? And also, if Mr. Trump actually makes his way to the White House, the kind of intimidation tactics that Mr. Cohen displayed tonight, would he consider those to be the norm for his administration? I’d love to know answers to those things.”
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