Donald Trump's lawyer apologizes for saying "You cannot rape your spouse"

Jul 28, 2015 1:30 PM by CBS News

Donald Trump's lawyer apologized Tuesday for comments he made to a "Daily Beast" reporter saying, "You cannot rape your spouse."

"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.

The lawyer, Michael Cohen, made threats against a reporter who was writing about a decades-old allegation of rape by Trump's first wife, Ivana Trump. Ivana Trump used the term "rape" to describe a sexual encounter between her and her husband when she was giving a deposition during the couple's 1990 divorce.

"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 Daily Beast.""You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law."

By 1993, marital rape was illegal in all 50 states. New York's marital rape exception was struck down in 1984.

Ivana Trump has gradually walked back the "rape" accusation since 1990. In a statement provided to CBS News after the "Daily Beast" story was published, she said she made the allegation "at a time of very high tension during my divorce from Donald."

"The story is totally without merit," she said. "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," she added, "I think he would make an incredible president."

In 1993, reporter Harry Hurt III published a book called "Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump" that included an extended description of the alleged rape scene. At the time, Ivana Trump provided a statement that was published in the book that said, "I felt violated" during the 1989 incident. She acknowledges she referred to it as a "rape," but said, "I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense."

In the story published by "The Daily Beast," Cohen not only vigorously denied the rape charges but is also quoted telling reporter Tim Mak, "I'm going to mess your life up."

"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 f***ing lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f***ing disgusting. You understand me?"

In an interview on "CBS This Morning" Tuesday, Mak said the situation "devolved pretty quickly."

Mak said he was prompted to look into any rape charges against Trump after the presidential candidate described Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists in his announcement speech.

He said that Trump should respond to the rape allegations.

"Trump should be held accountable for this allegation. He should be asked pretty directly what he thinks of it and how he would like to respond," Mak said on "CBS This Morning."

He added that since Michael Cohen has represented Trump in the media on past occasions, "it's very obvious that Trump has had no problem with Michael Cohen, his special counsel, speaking on his behalf in the past."

As for the threats made by Cohen, Mak said he's not that worried.

"I'm all that concerned what might be coming my way. I think he should be asked a few hard questions whether he agrees with his lawyer's interpretation of law, which is wrong, that spousal rape exists and its not illegal," he said.


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