An anti-Trump smear and its aftermath

Yesterday, the Daily Beast smeared Donald Trump by suggesting that he raped his ex-wife Ivana. It justified digging up this ancient story on the theory that “Donald Trump introduced his presidential campaign to the world with a slur against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of being ‘rapists.'”

If Donald Trump committed rape, however long ago, there is no need to justify writing about it. The problem is that, from all that appears, Trump did not rape Ivana. For one thing, even during their acrimonious divorce, she said that she was not raped “in the criminal sense.” Since rape is always a crime, this was an admission that she wasn’t raped.

Moreover, these days the former Mrs. Trump rejects any suggestion that Donald raped her in any sense. She told 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.

End of story.

Unfortunately, however, the Daily Beast’s ugly hit piece has produced another story. Trump’s “special counsel” Michael Cohen threatened the Daily Beast reporter who smeared Trump:

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

Cohen also opined that Trump could not have raped Ivana because a husband cannot rape his wife. The law holds otherwise.

Trump quickly distanced himself from Cohen’s remarks. He attributed them to Cohen’s anger about the impending smear of his boss. In my view, the anger (though not the comments) was justified.

Trump cannot be held responsible for a one-time outburst by a member of his inner-circle, especially under these circumstances. However, McKay Coppins at BuzzFeed claims that “Cohen’s outburst was, in fact, emblematic of the loyalists who have long populated The Donald’s inner circle.”

Coppins presents an unflattering picture of Trump’s inner-circle — one that’s not difficult to believe (and one that may well apply to many a successful businessman and politician). However, he points to no other examples of conduct similar to Cohen’s engaged in by Trump aides working on his behalf.

Still, it’s worth keeping an eye on this story. American surely does not need another president with a thuggish entourage.