In short, our courts must compel Trump & Co. to play by the courthouse rules rather than bow to Trumpian tactics. To do otherwise would be a manifest miscarriage of justice.
Well known for his presidential pout and litigious nature, Donald Trump has been involved in over 3,500 lawsuits. He is or was plaintiff in 1,900 claims and a defendant in 1,450. With a litany of civil and criminal cases now pending against the former president, he must defend himself without the executive protections typically afforded to sitting presidents. Thus far, Trump has been soundly trounced in court, and his failed efforts to overturn the election results in state and federal venues could be a precursor to life after the White House.
Having one’s claims settled in court is a quintessentially American pastime. It is a right that should not be lightly denied. Courts, however, do not condone tactics that are geared solely to delay or obfuscate court proceedings, or to punish business rivals or private individuals. Indeed, courts can discipline parties and their attorneys for using the courtroom as a brickbat. They can also fine the parties for misconduct should the circumstances warrant.
Trump learned litigation hardball from the disgraced and disbarred attorney Roy Cohn. Cohn, best known for being chief counsel to Senator Joseph McCarthy, helped McCarthy pursue his anti-Communist witch-hunts from the floor of the United States Senate in the 1950’s.
McCarthy’s red baiting rants cost countless American citizens their jobs and their reputations.
Later in life, Cohn passed on his dirty tricks style of litigation to young businessman Trump, and the latter never looked back. Since then, Trump has initiated nearly two thousand claims and has been called to account in many more. Today, a litany of lawsuits awaits Trump as he re-enters private life. Below is a summary of just a few.
The Manhattan Criminal Case
The Manhattan District Attorney has been conducting a criminal investigation into Trump and his business operations. One inquiry specifically concerns the “hush-money” allegedly paid to two women during the 2016 campaign who claimed to have had extra-marital affairs with Trump before he became president.
Prosecutors are examining possible criminal activity within the Trump Organization and have asked to review eight years of Trump’s financial records as part of its grand jury investigation. Trump took the case to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled in a 7-2 landmark decision that the president was not immune from criminal investigations while in office. Trump no longer has protection from possible criminal charges.
The New York Attorney General’s Fraud Investigation
New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office is investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of its assets in financial statements to secure loans and obtain tax benefits. This past fall, a New York state judge ordered the Trump Organization to turn over documents in the case to the New York Attorney General’s office.
Trump’s Nonprofit and Hotels
A lawsuit by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine accuses Trump’s inaugural committee and two other entities Trump owns of misusing the committee’s money to send funds to the president’s personal coffers. The complaint alleges that the inaugural committee, a nonprofit organization, contracted with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space at the Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., for celebrations of the Trump 2016 presidential win.
Michael Cohen’s Legal Bills
Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, stated that Trump and the Trump Organization agreed to pay for his legal bills soon after he became a focus of investigations by New York City prosecutors and Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the start of Trump’s presidency. Cohen claims that the Trump Organization abruptly ceased paying his fees in June of 2018, soon after Cohen agreed to cooperate with the prosecution. Cohen has amassed $2 million in legal bills, and has sued the president in New York state court.
Multi-Level Marketing Suit
Trump and his adult children have also been named as defendants in a class action suit. The suit alleges that Trump and his adult children misled plaintiffs into becoming salespeople for the American Communications Network (ACN). The Trumps are said to have duped them into thinking Donald Trump thought their investments would pay off.
Calling Trump to Account
On Trump’s return to the private sector, he should be treated like any private sector citizen. To wit, he should be called to account for how he conducts himself and his claims in court. The courts overseeing the various claims are well within their rights to sanction Trump and his lawyers if his claims and defenses lack merit, amount to an abuse of process, or are interpolated simply to obfuscate and delay a prompt resolution of the claims.
Today’s courthouses are far too crowded with meritorious claims to contend with such tactics. And today’s judicial dockets are too backlogged to countenance intentional delays. In short, our courts must compel Trump & Co. to play by the courthouse rules rather than bow to Trumpian tactics. To do otherwise would be a manifest miscarriage of justice.