The controversy began when Trump’s presidential-campaign team fired back after The Daily Beast published an explosive story highlighting decades-old comments Trump’s first wife, Ivana, made in which she used the word “rape” to describe one of their sexual encounters.
Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organisation, responded by saying it was impossible to rape your spouse by the “very definition” of marriage.
A statement released by Ivana herself, denied that any sexual assault ever occurred during her marriage to Trump.
When the allegations first surfaced in 1993, Ivana Trump issued a statement clarifying that she didn’t mean the term in a “a literal or criminal sense”.
A representative for Trump, now a front-runner in many polls of the Republican primary, provided a statement that said the incident was “old news and it never happened”.
The person also said Ivana Trump made up the “rape” allegation as part of an effort to “exploit” Trump during their divorce proceedings in the early 1990s.
“This is an event that has been widely reported on in the past — it is old news and it never happened,” the Trump representative said.
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 that 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 $14m 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. “[On] 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.”
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,” Cohen said, according to The Daily Beast.
“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. 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?”