“Is it possible to rape your wife?” just became a serious question in the Republican primary

With Donald Trump solidifying a lead in Republican primary polling, it was only a matter of time before journalists started vetting him like a serious candidate. Last night, the first round of that vetting came through, and hooooboy it was a doozy.

As Tim Mak and Brandy Zadrozny at The Daily Beast reported, in what is likely the most Donald Trump news yet this news cycle, the man who called an entire country a bunch of rapists may himself be a rapist. And if you report on it, his lawyer will first say that it’s legally impossible for Trump to be a rapist and then threaten to sue you, your organization and everyone you know and love.

Let’s back up a step.

According to the 1993 book, Lost Tycoon, The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, Trump’s ex-wife, Ivana, reportedly stated in a deposition that Trump made her feel “violated” during sex, recounting an incident in which Trump — following a “painful scalp reduction” — tore patches of her hair out while sexually assaulting her. As recounted in the book, “According to versions she repeats to some of her closest confidantes, ‘he raped me.’”

Trump clarified the allegation in a statement published in the book, noting that while she had referred to the encounter as rape, she did not want her words to be interpreted in the “literal or criminal sense.” Per the terms of her divorce settlement with Trump, she is not allowed to discuss matters concerning their marriage without his consent.

However, the details of a book published in 1993, however graphic, aren’t the only thing that made the story explosive. When Mak reached Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, for comment he first asserted that “by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

When Mak reminded Cohen that that isn’t true — New York’s “marital rape exemption” law was struck down in 1984 — Cohen “changed tactics,” threatening to sue The Daily Beast for $500 million if a story with Trump’s name and the word “rape” was published. As Mak reported:

“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 judgements against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he added.

Apparently, Donald Trump’s representatives are exactly the kinds of people you would expect to see hanging around Donald Trump. Abusive, reactionary, entitled jerks who base their legal reasoning on power instead of the law.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump, via lev radin / Shutterstock.com

Also, now that every political reporter in the country is queuing up stories that include a story that “has Mr. Trump’s name in it, with the word rape,” will Cohen feel obligated to mess everyone up? With this news now going viral, has Trump dragged himself into a situation in which he feels the need to honor-sue the entire political media? Come to think of it, that would probably improve his standing with the Republican base.

In any case, Trump’s campaign pushed back against the story by saying through a spokesman that the “money-losing” Daily Beast has been inaccurately reporting on Trump for years, to which the site’s editor, Noah Schactman, provided the perfect response: “Did they actually provide any examples of those inaccuracies or are their media critiques as busted as their legal interpretations?”

Schactman went on to list a series of followup questions he, along with the rest of the public, has for Trump in light of the story. Would a President Trump — who would presumably retain Michael Cohen in a high-ranking communications position — make a habit of threatening reporters? If this story really is such “old news,” as Trump’s spokesman called it, then why did Cohen feel the need to squash it so aggressively. And, most importantly, does Trump agree with his lawyer that it is legally impossible for non-consensual sex between a married couple to be classified as rape?

That last question isn’t just important for Trump; now that he’s leading the field, every Republican candidate is now going to have to say whether they think it is possible to rape your spouse. And I’d bet a few of them are going to have some very interesting answers.

This is yet another Trump-induced disaster for the Republican establishment that has seen their brand tank within their own party since the gilded dumpster fire entered the race. The same Republican Party that’s trying its damndest to avoid another national discussion about what counts as “legitimate rape” has now been dragged into one. They are currently being led by a candidate whose official position on the subject is that it’s common knowledge that marriage makes a woman sexual property, with no right to say no to the sexual demands of her husband, however violent and depraved they may be.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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29 Responses to ““Is it possible to rape your wife?” just became a serious question in the Republican primary”

  1. 2karmanot says:

    ” the Madonna of real estate.” good one! LOL

  2. 2karmanot says:

    Bingo on Hills. Listening to her is imagining the glass half empty, or half full, when it’s actually empty. Taken from the Obama coloring book.

  3. 2karmanot says:

    Trump, brain? Where? when? really?

  4. Badgerite says:

    So he didn’t rape her in the “literal or criminal sense”. He just made her feel like she’d been raped in the “literal or criminal sense”. Uh huh. The character Trump most reminds me of is Gordon Gekko.
    I think he is an accurate representation of the GOP these days.

  5. Houndentenor says:

    It also fits into the right wing narrative that rich people are smart and hard working and therefore deserve everything they have while poor people are stupid and lazy and deserve their fate. I give Trump credit for an amazing ability at self-promotion. He’s like the Modonna of real estate. That doesn’t mean he’s the best at real estate but everyone’s heard his name.

  6. White&Blue says:

    Ah I see. Thanks for clearing that up. And of course nobody hears about it. He’s the epitome of success (in GOP’s opinion) so why care about the people who are left to pick up his mess? He’s the “look how you can succeed when you believe in yourself and work hard (and inherit daddy’s money).”

  7. Houndentenor says:

    Yes. It’s the companies that file for bankruptcy protection, not him personally. But yes, it means that he keeps the profits and then leaves other people broke. That’s how people like Trump roll. For some reason people don’t know that. Oh right, the media where they get their information is run by people who roll the same way.

  8. White&Blue says:

    Fifth bankruptcy? Never heard of that one. It seems his claims as a business genius is more convincing than his hair. Oh and here’s a couple of funny citations of him: “History tells us that once a stupid rich man gets poor, he doesn’t usually get rich again… unless he is Donald Trump.”—John Green and: “He started with nothing, worked hard, and made a fortune. That man is Fred Trump – Donald’s dad.”
    —Seth MacFarlane

  9. The_Fixer says:

    I thought she married him for his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is gift of gab. Huh, I guess he’s got more going on down there than any of us thought…

    Yeah, right :)

  10. White&Blue says:

    Oh yeah, should’ve mentioned that. It’s an obvious vanity project never meant to succeed.

  11. wmforr says:

    Why does Michael Cohen’s high-school-double-dare-masquerading-as-a-legal-document make me think of Al Pacino playing Roy Cohen in “Angels in Ameica”? Are they related?

  12. wmforr says:

    Every story about Trump shows that video of him getting on an escalator with his granddaught… oops I mean, his wife. Did you know that she married him for his sexual attractiveness, and it had nothing to do with money?

  13. Indigo says:

    That crossed my mind too. The attorney in question is so far off base I can’t imagine how he keeps his license. He’s paid to mouth off so he mouths off. Bizarre.

  14. Rhonda Chavez says:

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  15. The_Fixer says:

    This just is one more indicator of Trump’s lack of regard for women. He thinks of women as both decorations (Miss America Pageant) and as possessions which he has bought to use in a manner he sees fit.

    This does not surprise me in the least. Everything about the man screams unsophisticated, gauche and entitled. I am glad that he will be yesterdays news and out of the race before too long.

  16. Houndentenor says:

    When discussing rape it is actually quite simple. If you don’t have consent, it’s rape. Rape is always wrong. It’s really not that hard. Why do so many keeping fucking it up?

  17. woodroad34 says:

    Trump speaks with violence, hatred and anger. Has he really shown us that he has answers to anything other than the ability to puncture the puss bag of Tea party reptiles? The odd thing is that I have a couple of friends who are wealthy older (late 60’s to 80’s) gay men (one of which is a devout Episcopalian) who find him interesting and that he’s “telling it like it is”. I just figure they’re grumpy ol’ f*rts. But it’s amazing how the uneducated (or lowly educated),disaffected people find him palpable. There just seems to be this inability to be mature.

  18. BeccaM says:

    Where is that part of their brain that tells them to stop talking and to start thinking?

    It rotted away from neglect and was replaced by a lizard brain. Hence the only instincts remaining to them are “Eat, f*ck, brutalize and kill.”

  19. woodroad34 says:

    Oh, this is rich. Hate the gays, because loving between two guys or two girls is icky….but violent forced intercourse with your heterosexual partner is okay? Where is that part of their brain that tells them to stop talking and to start thinking?

  20. BeccaM says:

    An attorney who is unaware that it’s been three decades since raping one’s wife became illegal and a felony is a lawyer who should be disbarred. Same also for one who appears to have no awareness of the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution.

    That said, it really doesn’t surprise me in the least that this is the kind of lawyer who appeals personally to Trump, who is himself a perfect reflection of the Id of the Republican party and its base.

  21. nicho says:

    What political junkies – especially younger ones — forget (or never knew) is that Americans love charlatans. They also love people who speak plainly and assuredly — even when they’re sick and/or wrong. This is why Reagan was so popular. His shoot-form-the-hip cowboy style of “plain” talk was attractive to many people — no matter how wrong, poorly informed, or racist he was. Many people loved him.

    Compare Trump to Hillary. Hillary says nothing that hasn’t been polled six ways from Sunday, focus grouped, crafted, and massaged. Her statements are purposely vague or have loopholes that allow her to do the exact opposite of what her fanboys and fangirls read into them. There’s no passion and no clear vision — just suggestions that allow her to go either way. Listening to Hillary is like listening to your insurance agent read your automobile policy to you.

    Trump — for all the racist, misogynist idiot that he is — speaks clearly, and that resonates with a lot of people.

  22. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    Worse hair? Really?

  23. nicho says:

    Could be, but I don’t even think he has that motivation. He’s just out there promoting Trump and feeding his ego.

  24. 2karmanot says:

    Hmmmm: The Donald/Cosby syndrome….that works: Comedian Rapists.

  25. Houndentenor says:

    As soon as his poll numbers dive, he’s out. There will be some excuse blaming someone else for his declining popularity. The independent candidacy will not happen unless someone else is paying for it which I don’t see happening. Trumps fortune is from inherited money plus projects where he took the money and then left others with the bill when it went belly-up. That’s why he’s on his fifth bankruptcy while acting like he’s a financial genius.

  26. White&Blue says:

    It’s just like Jon wrote. He’s only there to up the stakes and make sure the other candidates keep on their toes. He’ll drop out once he’s satisfied that someone is spouting the same amount of stupidity he is. It’ll be interesting to see who takes him up on the challenge.

  27. Jonah says:

    “Gilded dumpster fire,” that’s pretty good.

  28. nicho says:

    Trump isn’t a serious “presidential candidate.” He’s a perennial attention whore who has no shame as long as his name is in a headline. He’ll say or do anything to get the presstitutes scribbling. He’s pretty much just another Ann Coulter – with worse hair.

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