An adviser to Donald Trump has apologized for controversial remarks he made while defending the presidential hopeful from a decades-old assault accusation.
Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, said in an interview with the Daily Beast on Monday that legally "you cannot rape your spouse."
His comments were in response to a sexual assault accusation made by Trump's ex-wife Ivana during their divorce proceedings two decades ago. She has since denied the assault took place.
On Tuesday, Cohen apologized for his outburst in a statement to CNN, saying: "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. 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.”
He made his initial comments when the Daily Beast questioned him about an old allegation by Ivana Trump.
Brandy Zadrozny, who co-wrote the article, said: “Ivana claimed that Trump tore her hair out, ripped off her clothes and had forcible sex. She said she felt violated although later she did say she didn't mean to use the word rape in a literal or criminal way.”
Before print, the reporters couldn't reach Trump so had questioned the lawyer, Michael Cohen, instead.
According to the report, he said: "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."
In fact, spousal rape laws have been on the books in New York State for more than 30 years.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill responded swiftly, tweeting:
Most shocking part of this? Trump's lawyer thinks it's legal to rape your spouse. Giving Akin a run for his money. http://t.co/eB9h2KjiFc— Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) July 28, 2015
In a statement to CNN, Ivana Trump slammed the Daily Beast story.
"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," she said in the statement. "The story is totally without merit."
She wished her ex-husband "the best of luck" in his bid for the White House.
"Incidentally, I think he would make an incredible president," she added.
Donald Trump has been stealing the headlines in the presidential race ever since his controversial remarks about illegal Mexican immigrants, who he claims some are rapists.
But his comments have not hurt him among voters. The latest CNN poll has trump leading the Republican back with 18 per cent against second place Jeb Bush with 15 per cent.
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