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Donald Trump battles to keep his divorce records under wraps after accusation of rape retracted by first wife

Two newspapers have requested to see the court records to gain more transparency on the Republican presidential candidate

Rachael Revesz
Wednesday 14 September 2016 10:47 BST
Trump poses with his first wife in 1997, years after their divorce
Trump poses with his first wife in 1997, years after their divorce (Getty)

Donald Trump is engaged in another lawsuit to keep the details of his divorce from Ivana Trump out of the public eye.

The New York real estate mogul turned presidential candidate divorced his first wife and the mother of his three eldest children in 1990, and 26 years later publications including the New York Times have requested to view the papers.

The request comes as Mr Trump is also being called upon to release his tax returns, evidence of his donations of “millions of dollars” to charity and his full medical report.

The publications seeking the divorce papers argued that they needed more evidence as to how Mr Trump treated his ex-wife following her accusation that he raped her in 1989.

Mr Trump denied the claim and Ms Trump later retracted the allegation, saying she had not meant rape “in the criminal sense”.

Their divorce was granted on the ground of “cruel and inhuman treatment” and they reached an undisclosed settlement.

Further transparency on the candidate is also in the public interest, argue the New York Times and the Gannett newspaper, following his controversial and "sexist" comments about women, with whom he is ranking low in the polls.

State law mandates that divorce records only should be made public “under special circumstances”.

Ms Trump’s lawyer, Ira Garr, argued that the candidate's ex-wife was a private citizen and had “already been made to suffer enormous public humiliation and embarrassment having her personal affairs exploited before the public in one of the most publicised divorces in history.”

Marc Kasowitz, Mr Trump’s lawyer, accused the media of engaging upon a “fishing expedition”, as reported by New York Daily News.

He said the media is “concocting” three reasons to get the papers: the public interest, the passage of time and prior public statements about their marriage and divorce.

Allowing newspapers to “rummage through” the sealed documents would, he said, “override the public interest”.

In court papers filed on behalf of the news organisations seeking the divorce records’ release, lawyer David McCraw said that the public has a right to know more about the candidate’s marital fidelity as it reflects their character and “fitness for office”.

He noted that Mr Trump attacked Bill Clinton’s lack of fidelity to his wife, Hillary Clinton, and that voters should not have to rely on a “patchwork of disclosed, partially sealed documents and public statements […].”

The divorce battle and the ensuing settlement was also chronicled the 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump.

The outcome of the case will be decided within a few weeks by Justice Frank Nervo at the matrimonial division of the Manhattan Supreme Court.

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