Photograph by Richard Ellis/Getty Images.
Newt Gingrich claims that it was his first wife who wanted a divorce in 1980, not him. Court documents, however, show that it was the current GOP presidential hopeful who initiated the legal proceedings.
CNN went digging and uncovered the legal paperwork, which—along with interviews with people close to the couple at the time of their divorce—appear to contradict Gingrich's claim that it was his first wife who wanted out of the pair's nearly 20-year marriage.
In a divorce complaint filed on July 14, 1980, Gingrich called the union "irretriebably (sic) broken." His then-wife, Jackie Battley Gingrich, responded by requesting the judge reject her husband’s filing, claiming that she had "adequate and ample grounds for divorce, but that she does not desire one at this time."
When CNN presented the new info to the Gingrich camp, a spokesman stood by the contention that it was Gingrich's first wife who asked for the divorce in 1980. R.C. Hammond emailed the network saying that while the county court documents accurately show the GOP candidate was the one who filed for divorce, "it was Jackie Battley who requested the divorce."
Battley declined a CNN interview request, but the cable news channel points to a brief 1985 interview she gave to the Washington Post, in which she had this to say: "He can say that we had been talking about it for 10 years, but the truth is that it came as a complete surprise." A "former close Gingrich friend" backed up that claim in a recent interview with CNN. "He [Gingrich] said, 'You know and I know that she's not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of a president,' " recalled Leonard "Kip" Carter, who worked on Gingrich's early congressional campaigns.
You can read the full court documents over at CNN, which also spoke to a divorce lawyer to put the legal filings into context.