The Donald Trump cheating scandals explained

The words "scandal" and "Trump" go together like "pancakes" and "syrup." Even before announcing his run for office in 2015, Donald Trump lived in a state of near-constant scandal, racking up so many instances of misconduct that it became nearly impossible to keep track of his indiscretions. From his frequent need to rail against "political correctness," to his history of alleged real estate fraud, many of Trump's scandals have long since been forgotten or overlooked, including repeated allegations of cheating — not just at golf or on his SATs, as rumored, but on all three of his wives.

Trump's cheating allegations date back to the 1980s, during his marriage to first wife Ivana Trump, and persist through the present day. While some of these rumors involve cheating in its simplest form, countless others amount to accusations of sexual assault. And now, since Trump's run for president (and subsequent victory), more women than ever have spoken up and out against his past behavior.

Donald Trump cheated on Ivana Trump with his eventual second wife

Donald Trump was on top of the world in New York City in the 1980s. Everything he did, including his marriage to first wife Ivana Trump, was highly publicized, especially by the New York media. The couple soon welcomed Donald's first three children, Donald, Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, and, at first, the family seemed like the perfect picture of American wealth in the 1980s. When Donald began being spotted around the city with actress Marla Maples, however, the tabloids descended immediately. In a now-infamous incident, Trump brought both women on a vacation to Aspen and, when Ivana found out Maples was also at the resort, the ensuing argument made the cover of People.

Trump was featured on the cover of the New York Post for eight days straight at the height of his relationship with Maples. Ivana regularly felt "humiliated," according to Vanity Fair, and began to see herself less as Donald's partner and more as his victim. Ivanka also reportedly came home from school in tears regularly due to the press coverage and her classmates' chatter. Donald and Ivana ultimately divorced in 1991 and he married Maples in December 1993, shortly after the birth of their only daughter Tiffany Trump in October of the same year. As recently as 2016, Ivana has not forgiven Maples, telling the New York Post, "Why should I? She broke my marriage!"

Donald Trump faced darker allegations from years ago

As the soap opera of the Donald-Ivana-Marla love triangle played out in the tabloids, increasingly disturbing rumors about Donald Trump's behavior began to circulate. Jessica Leeds, a businesswoman, came forward in 2016 with allegations that Trump groped her without permission on a flight in the early 1980s, during his marriage to Ivana. She described him as an "octopus," telling the New York Times, "His hands were everywhere." Leeds described the incident as "an assault," causing her to flee to the back of the plane so she could hide from Trump.

Similar allegations have emerged during his third and current marriage to First Lady Melania Trump (née Knaus). Rachel Cooks described an incident in an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005. Cooks alleged that, when she was 22, Trump walked into the elevator and began kissing her on the cheeks and mouth unprompted and without permission. Natasha Stoynoff and Summer Zervos both produced similar allegations. Former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal also alleged an affair with Trump during this period, though McDougal says their affair was consensual. However, when McDougal tried to share her story before the election, the National Enquirer purchased exclusive rights to the story and refused to publish it, per The New Yorker. The most famous allegation from this period, however, comes from adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Stormy Daniels brought Donald Trump's sordid past into the spotlight

Arguably the most famous of all the Donald Trump cheating allegations comes from one Stormy Daniels. Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, alleged that she had an affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant with their son, Barron. Rumors about the affair have swirled since at least 2011, but they attracted renewed attention before the 2016 presidential election. One month before the election, Trump's allegedly arranged for Daniels to receive $130,000 in an effort to buy her silence about the affair.

While non-disclosure agreements are legal and fairly common in celebrity circles, the Daniels affair became a huge scandal due to accusations that the payment violated campaign finance laws. Trump claimed no knowledge of the payment, leaving his lawyer Michael Cohen to take the fall. Cohen was eventually sentenced to three years in federal prison for charges including "excessive campaign contributions." Daniels went on to publish a tell-all memoir, Full Disclosure, detailing not just the alleged affair, but also her life before and after. For his part, Trump has continued to deny anything ever happened with Daniels.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit RAINN.org for additional resources.