A few weeks ago, we wrote about the absolute ridiculousness of Donald Trump's "lawsuit"
against Univision, which made some bizarre claims about the First Amendment and defamation that clearly did not apply. While there may be a legitimate contractual dispute hidden somewhere in all that mess, there was so much fluff
that it made you wonder who is actually advising the entertainer (pretending to be a politician) on legal issues. Apparently, it's some guy named Michael Cohen, who isn't just out of his depth on stuff, but he appears to be actively making things worse. In an astounding article over at The Daily Beast, which was initially over claims of "rape" by Donald Trump's ex-wife Ivana during their divorce proceedings, Cohen not only claimed that you can't rape a spouse
, but also threatened to ruin The Daily Beast if they published an article. Lawyering by bullshit threats, apparently.
Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, defended his boss, saying, “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.”
“It is true,” Cohen added. “You cannot rape your spouse. And there’s very clear case law.”
This is, of course, wrong -- both legally and morally. In NY State, the law got rid of
the "marital exemption" to rape laws in 1984 and federal law made it clear that spousal rape is a real crime not long after that. Even if that wasn't
the case, is that really a defense? "Oh it's not rape because they're married?" Who thinks that's an okay excuse: "Well, technically, it's not rape." Yikes.
Cohen has now sort of, but not really, "apologized"
for what he claims was an "inarticulate comment."
"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," Cohen said in a statement to CNN.
Except that it wasn't inarticulate. It was wrong and, many would argue, morally reprehensible.
And notice that he's still blaming the reporter
for asking the question. And that brings us to the second crazy bit here: the threats against the reporters. The reporters -- Tim Mak and Brandy Zadrozny -- didn't back down. In fact, they not only published the story but included the rather unhinged threats from Cohen:
“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 judgments against you, so much money, you’ll never know how to get out from underneath it,” he added.
Cohen appears to come from a very different generation of legal advice -- one in which bogus threats designed to shut people up would actually work, rather than today, when they just provide a great story. Once again, though, this should serve as a reminder for why we need a federal anti-SLAPP law
. Cohen has made it abundantly clear that he has no qualms in using bogus lawsuits to try to stifle public discussion of important matters concerning someone who is clearly a public persona and who is even (technically) running for President.
The fact that Cohen's "apology" for the spouse raping comment still pins the blame on the reporters suggests someone who still doesn't understand what he's talking about. A recent "profile" of Cohen
includes him describing his own style as being a "pit bull.":
A 2011 ABC News profile reported that within The Trump Organization he’s called the boss’s “pit bull.”
“If you do something wrong, I’m going to come at you, grab you by the neck and I’m not going to let you go until I’m finished,” Cohen, now 48, told the TV network.
That story also notes that while he may file lawsuits, his threats aren't entirely accurate:
To wit: When New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a fraud suit against Trump’s for-profit college in 2013, Cohen threatened Trump’s vengeance: “The damage to the attorney general is going to be very significant,” Cohen told
The New Yorker.
“So significant that he will possibly have to resign.” (Schneiderman has not resigned. The case is ongoing.)
It might make you wonder where Cohen actually got a law degree. And... it turns out that it's from the infamous Thomas M. Cooley law school. We've written about Cooley a bunch of times. It's a bottom tier law school, considered so bad that US News used to list it as "unranked" because it wouldn't provide the necessary info. It now lists the school as "Rank Not Published"
which US News notes is "for the schools that are in the bottom 25 percent of the rankings."
In response to this, Cooley came up with its own ranking
system, saying it disagreed with US News' methodology. Magically, Cooley came in second in its own ranking system, second only behind Harvard Law. So what kind of methodology did Cooley's own ranking system include? Well, they took out anything having to do with "quality" since they deemed those to be too subjective, and then used a bunch of stuff about how big the library is
, including "total library square footage" and "library seating capacity." Apparently, the Thomas Cooley law school has a huge library.
The school has also become infamous for suing critics
, so Cohen seems to have taken those lessons to heart. A few years ago it sort of "merged" with Western Michigan University, and used that as an opportunity to change its name
to avoid some of the bagggage of the Thomas M. Cooley brand. It now promotes itself as the "Western Michigan University -- Cooley Law School" and who does it promote as a distinguished graduate on its own site? You guessed it. One Michael Cohen of the Trump organization:
Thomas Cooley law school continues its traditions, apparently.