Life in the Box: Courting Trump’s Lawsuits
Now that Trump is out of office without a federal self-pardon, what can we expect as far as lawsuits against him? I did a few days of searching online, and came up with a list. It doesn’t include any actions related to the January 6th uprising, which are still evolving. These are some of the allegations against Trump and his Trump organization that are awaiting him in court. They fall loosely into two categories: Personal and Business dealings; and problems related to the President’s behavior while in office or pursuing office.
Personal and Business Lawsuits
Slander/ Defamation In separate lawsuits, Summer Zervos (alleges groping) and E. Jean Carroll (alleges rape) claim they can prove they were telling the truth, and that Trump’s public statements against them can consist of slander or defamation of character.
Bilking Relatives Trump and two siblings (his sister–former Federal Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, and now-deceased brother Robert) allegedly mis-stated net worth (by tens of millions) of Trump’s father Fred, in order to bilk his niece, Mary Trump. Mary Trump’s lawsuit was filed in 2020, after reporters helped her uncover hidden documents.
Non-payment of contracts and employees Former lawyer Michael Cohen is alleging that Trump didn’t pay him millions of dollars for services rendered. I’ve seen headlines that Trump has also stated recently that he won’t pay Rudy Giuliani, but I don’t think that has gone to court.
Supplying false documents for immigrants While decrying “illegal immigrants” publicly, the Trump Organization is alleged to have provided fraudulent documents to immigrants so they could work at Trump properties.
Rent Fraud This class action lawsuit was filed in October of 2020, revised in December 2020. It alleges a decades-long illegal practice of inflating rent prices to more than 14,000 apartments in Trump properties. Trump and several family members are named in this suit, and if found guilty, they would not only have to pay back tenants with interest, they could also be liable for tax fraud. After this activity was first reported in 2018, Trump’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, retired suddenly, seemingly to avoid an inquiry into her possible part in this fraud.
Tax Fraud, Insurance Fraud and Bank Fraud, Illegally Inflating and Deflating Income New York Southern District’s ongoing investigation: “Prosecutors have suggested in court filings that the investigation could examine whether the President and his company engaged in bank fraud, insurance fraud, criminal tax fraud and falsification of business records.”- CNN
Money Laundering There are currently civil, criminal, and congressional investigations into potential money laundering by Donald Trump and his business. Notably, Trump’s connection to Germany’s Deutsche Bank is under scrutiny; his long-time banker there, Rosemary Bradley, recently resigned, and other employees have flagged potential fraud in his accounts. Much has been reported about Deutsche Bank’s illegal dealings with Russia. David Enrich has published a book about its ties to Trump and Putin.
Other Trump activities have also been questioned, although I haven’t seen lawsuits about them. Reporter Craig Unger has looked at Trump’s “shell companies,” saying that they may be unethical while at the same time legal. And NBC’s Richard Engel documented questionable Trump dealings, including in Panama’s Trump Tower.
For further reference, I liked the summary of “The Panama Papers” documentary by Alex Winter that’s posted on the MSNBC website.
State Attorney Generals Variety Pack There are additional cases ongoing against the Trump Administration, including 122 placed by the California State Attorney over the past 4 years (many against loosening of environmental protections) and 48 by the Texas State Attorney. Lawsuits include holding him responsible for the administration’s treatment of immigrants at the southern border.
Mueller Report: Obstruction Now that he’s out of office, the evidence collected in the Mueller Report can potentially be used to charge Trump with various Obstruction of Justice charges. Examples of his documented behavior include: not complying with subpoenas, attempting to fire Mueller, and efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating.
While I haven’t found any of these lawsuits yet, more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors signed a statement saying, “that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would… result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice” for anyone who wasn’t the sitting President. Well, he’s not sitting President any more.
Campaign Finance Laws The “Stormy Daniels” case alleges that Trump was “Individual One” and is guilty of ordering Michael Cohen to make “hush money payments” in order to head off bad press before the 2016 election. Michael Cohen is already serving time for this. Trump is likely to be next.
Emoluments Clause Using his public office for personal profit. Lawsuits have been brought by Attorneys General of Washington DC and Maryland. The suits allege that his Trump Hotel in Washington DC profited by encouraging foreign representatives to pay excessive fees to stay there in exchange for better access to the President.
There are more potential cases involving conflict of interest, use of public resources (tax dollars) for campaign events, and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. There also may be some additional lawsuits connected to his soliciting illegal support from Ukraine and Russia (as shown in the Mueller Report.) Possibly I’ve missed a few others already in progress.
We don’t know how many of these lawsuits will run through the courts, we don’t know how long they will take, and we don’t know their outcomes. But we can bet good money that in the next few years, Trump will be quite busy employing attorneys. And if I were one of those attorneys, I’d require that he pay me in advance.
*Update Early February 2021: The U.S. Supreme Court has decided to release the cases against Trump’s alleged emoluments issues and some of the cases against his immigration policies, due to the fact that Trump is no longer in office. I’ll add a link to a blog that keeps track of SCOTUS actions.
Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, narrating and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and life issues, both inside and outside the box. Her opinions are her own, and are not necessarily those of this web site.