Donald Trump and his ex-wife Ivana have successfully fought an attempt by the New York Times and the Gannett newspaper chain to unseal the 26-year-old court records on their divorce, which Ivana filed in 1990 on the grounds of “cruel and inhuman treatment” (at the time, a lawyer elaborated to the Times that this designation was due to Trump’s affair with Marla Maples).
The Times and Gannett argued that questions of credibility and ethics raised by Trump’s presidential campaign created an “intense” public interest in the divorce files, which are usually kept sealed.
Politico reports that lawyers for both Donald and Ivana Trump filed briefs opposing the unsealing, with the latter arguing that as a private citizen, she should not be subject to this invasion of privacy; she also filed a personal affidavit that read (via Politico):
“I do not want the details of our divorce (most of which have already been reported extensively) to be opened up and displayed to the general public for their misinterpretation and amusement,” Ivana Trump wrote. “Donald and I currently share a warm relationship and our family should not be forced to relive this part of our past because he is running for president.”
In her submission to the court, according to Politico, Ivana acknowledged media reports on the now out-of-print 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump by reporter Harry Hurt III, which featured a deposition Ivana gave claiming Trump had raped her; Lost Tycoon included allegations of a harrowing scene of assault involving Trump pulling out “fistfuls” of his then-wife’s hair (according to The Daily Beast, she claimed, in a statement published in Lost Tycoon, that she had not meant rape “in a literal or criminal sense.” Michael Cohen, special counsel at the Trump Organization, contended inaccurately to the Beast that “you cannot rape your spouse”).
In their 2015 report, The Daily Beast did manage to get ahold of some legal documents from the divorce:
In one such document, Ivana Trump’s lawyers claim that in the three years preceding their divorce Donald Trump, “has increasingly verbally abused and demeaned [her] so as to obtain her submission to his wishes and desires” as well as “humiliated and verbally assaulted” her. The New York County Clerk’s records office couldn’t locate at least one box of documents relating to the contract dispute. (It’s not uncommon for court files to go missing.)
In this recent submission to the court, Ivana referred to reports on her claim of rape as “previous misinterpreted statements and allegations.”
In a ruling released on Thursday, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo rejected the request from the Times and Gannett:
“Were the court to make the confidential records available for journalistic, and thus public, scrutiny, it would impermissibly inject itself into the political process by making the value judgment of what information is useful in determining the present candidate’s, or any other candidate’s, fitness for office. The court’s role in the electoral process is strictly limited to determining whether a candidate complies with the Election Law. The court will not take an action that exceeds that limitation.”
A lawyer for the media outlets told Politico that no immediate decision had been made on whether to appeal.