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This might be the first actual apology to come out of Camp Trump: The Donald’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is backtracking on his claim that Donald Trump couldn’t possibly have raped his first wife — because, supposedly, there’s no such thing legally as spousal rape. (Note: There definitely is.)

“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,” Cohen said in a statement given to CNN Tuesday morning. “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.”

The trouble started with an article in The Daily Beast on Monday evening, which revived a story dating back to Trump’s divorce from his first wife Ivana in the early 1990s. In a deposition, Ivana had claimed that Donald assaulted and raped her in 1989, after a confrontation involving Donald being unsatisfied with plastic surgery he had gotten to remove a bald spot. Donald and Ivana eventually reached a settlement in their divorce case.

“You’re talking about the frontrunner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as a private individual who never raped anybody,” Trump’s special counsel Cohen told the site. “And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can’t rape your spouse.”

“It is true,” Cohen further insisted. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”

However, this is simply not true: The historical common-law tradition that a husband could not be liable for raping his wife was undone decades ago in this country. As for Trump’s own home state, New York’s martial rape exemption was overturned by the state’s top court in 1984 — five years before the alleged incident with Ivana — and by 1993 all 50 states had formally recognized marital rape as a crime. (However, there continue to be difficulties in actually enforcing these laws.)

Cohen also had some further strong words to say to the site:

“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?”

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

In addition to Cohen’s apology for his remarks, Ivana Trump herself is defending her ex-husband in another statement given to CNN:

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 three 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.

Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames, Iowa, United States, July 18, 2015. (REUTERS/Jim Young)


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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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