This section is managed by zapalny74
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------End section managed by zapalny74
Oct 20, 2021
PALM BEACH, FL -- October 20, 2021 -- Trump Media & Technology Group and Digital World Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ:DWAC) have entered into a definitive merger agreement, providing for a business combination that will result in Trump Media & Technology Group becoming a publicly listed company, subject to regulatory and stockholder approval.
This section managed by Hattori Hanzo
Donald Trump is the chariman of the merging company, which means in all likelihood, he will run this business into the ground and make off with the money, as is his M.O.
Lets revisit some now defunct Trump businesses which he has failed miserably with:
TRUMP AIRLINES 1988 (and subsequently TRUMP SHUTTLES): 2 years in, wasn't making enough money to cover the $1mil interest payment on the initial $245mil loan. The company went defunct and was surrendered to his creditors
TRUMP BEVERAGES: Trump Fire (2004); never made it to market. Trump Power (2004); both trademark applications were abandoned in 2006. Trump American Pale Ale had the trademark cancelled in 2007.
TRUMP THE GAME 1988: Sold less than half of the expected volume and was discontinued in 1990, a re-release in 2004 quickly went out of circulation as well
TRUMP CASINOS: Filed for BANKRUPTCY on the Atlantic City properties THREE TIMES. The Taj Mahal in 1991, $3 BILLION in debt after ONE YEAR of operation. 2004 again for the Taj Mahal, as well as Trump Marina casino and Trump Plaza casino for debt of $1.8 BILLION. This bankruptcy was followed by reorganization named Trump Resorts Entertainment, which missed a $53.1mil bond interest payment, the company delcared bankruptcy and Trump stepped down as chairman, in other words, HE QUIT
TRUMP MAGAZINE 2007: Folded by 2009
TRUMP MORTGAGE 2006: Experts predicted $3BILLION in business in the first year, he achieved less than a third of that and went out of business in 2007. This company has also never paid a settlement awarded to an employee in the amount of $298,274 or it's unpaid taxes of $3,555 (not very baller of a supposed rich person)
TRUMP STEAKS: During the second Atlantic City bankruptcy, Trump owed a Georgia company over $715,000 for meats, struck a deal to sell through Sharper Image, sold less than $50,000 worth of steak and it was pulled from shelves within 2 MONTHS
TRUMP TRAVEL: Launched in 2006, folded in 2007
TRUMPNET: Corporate telecom service in 1990, never got off the ground and was abandoned in 1992
TRUMP TOWER TAMPA: 52 story tower in Tampa, the developers of which he sold his name to for $2mil. The project failed in 2008, people lost thousands in down payments, sued Trump for misleading them, he settled with many
TRUMP UNIVERSITY: Sold memberships for upwards of $35,000 for "hand picked" instructors. They ended up being motivational speakers, often with no degress, and sometimes with criminal records. There are 2 class action lawsuits ongoing in California and a $40MIL suit in NY filed by an AG there.
TRUMP VODKA: Launched in 2006, trademark abandoned in 2008, out of circulation in 2011
NOW LETS EXPLORE HIS PAST AND PENDING LEGAL MATTERS, UNRELATED TO POLITICS
1973: Trump vs. The US DOJ: His real estate company was sued by the Civil Rights division for preventing people of color from renting properties, he settled in 1975
1983: Trump vs. Central Park South Tenants: It was alleged that he was trying to force out rent-controlled tenants in order to demolish the building. Settled in 1986 with the tenants and the buildings remaining, and the business saavy Trump forced to pay over a half a million dollars for THEIR lawyers
1986: Trump vs. NFL: He convinced his partners in the USFL to sue the NFL for antitrust violations in the amount of $1.7 BILLION. He actually won this lawsuit, in the amount of $3, yes, three dollars, oh, and the USFL went belly up as a result
1990: Trump vs. Marvin Roffman: Roffman was fired from his company after he predicted the Taj Mahal would fail publicly, Roffman filed a $2mil defamation suit, which was settled privately for an undisclosed amount that left Roffman "very happy"
1992: Trump vs. Palm Beach County: This is the Mar-A-Lago thing that forced him to turn it into a private club after being denied permission to renovate it into a bunch of rentable mini-mansions
1995: Trump vs. Palm Beach County (again): Trump sued the county claiming harassment of his guests due to the county directing air traffic over his property. This was settled and the county agreed to lease some of the property for a golf course
1997: Trump vs. Jill Harth: Sexual Harassment suit brought against Trump, settled for an undisclosed amount
2006: Trump vs. Warner Books: Trump accused defandants of libel for suggesting he was a millionaire and not a billionaire. This case was thrown out and the appeal was rejected.
2010: Trump vs. Tarla Makaeff and Art Cohen: 2 Trump University "students", Makaeff sued him as the head of a class action suit accusing him of FRAUD and FALSE ADVERTISING. Art Cohen sued him as the head of another class action accusing him of RACKETEERING. Trump paid out $25 MILLION to settle these
2013: Trump vs. NY AG: Trump was used by the State of New York, repped by the AG, for $40 MILLION related to the Trump University scam. Specifically for DECEPTIVE CONDUCT and FRAUD. The Supreme Court eventually found him PERSONALLY LIABLE for the damages
LET US LOOK AT SOME PENDING LEGAL ISSUES
The following list contains pending legal actions where TMTG Chairman Donald J Trump is the accused and therefore on topic for this board
E. Jean Carroll Defamation Suit
Carroll v. Trump, No. 20-cv-07311, 2020 WL 6277814 (S.D.N.Y. Oct. 27, 2020), appeal docketed, No. 20-03977 (2d Cir. Nov. 25, 2020)
Plaintiff: E. Jean Carroll, a journalist and advice columnist
Case Summary: In 2019, Carroll publicly accused then-President Trump of sexually assaulting her in a New York City department store in the 1990s. A few hours later, Trump denied Carroll’s allegation and accused her of fabricating the story to drum up publicity for her upcoming book. Carroll then sued Trump for defamation in New York state court, alleging that Trump defamed her when he publicly accused her of falsifying the assault story.
After nearly a year of state court proceedings–and with Carroll’s counsel angling to sample Trump’s DNA–the Justice Department moved to intervene on Trump’s behalf under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This move threatened to quash the suit. In effect, the FTCA (as amended by the Westfall Act) provides blanket immunity to federal employees who commit certain torts–including defamation–arising out of their official duties. According to the DOJ, the president’s official duties include speaking to the press about public matters–which would mean that Trump had immunity from any defamatory statements he made about Carroll.
The DOJ’s intervention also derailed the state court proceedings: because FTCA claims must be litigated in federal court, Carroll’s suit was automatically removed to the Southern District of New York (SDNY). In federal court, Carroll argued that Trump’s statements were not protected by the FTCA. In short, Carroll contended that (i) Trump was not covered by the FTCA because the president is not an “employee”; and (ii) Trump’s statements about Carroll fell outside his official presidential duties.
On both counts, the court agreed. Though removal was irreversible, the court held that the FTCA did not cover Trump’s actions, so Carroll’s defamation suit could proceed against Trump in his personal capacity. Acting separately, the DOJ and Trump both appealed. Trump also requested the court stay the district court proceedings until that appeal is resolved.
Case Status: In the SDNY proceedings, the parties filed opposing memoranda on Trump’s motion to stay in December 2020.
At the Second Circuit, the DOJ and Trump filed separate opening briefs on Jan. 15, 2021. Carroll’s attorneys then requested an Apr. 16, 2021 due date for their brief. Notably, her counsel explicitly selected that date so the Biden DOJ would have time to reassess the Trump administration’s position that Trump was acting within the scope of his employment when he allegedly defamed Carroll. The Second Circuit granted that scheduling request.
Update: Carroll filed her brief on Apr. 16, 2021, urging the appeals court to uphold the decision below.
Update: Despite the change in administration, the Biden DOJ filed a reply brief on June 7, 2021, that backed Trump’s argument that the FTCA covered his conduct. It echoed the core arguments from the Trump DOJ’s opening brief that the president is an “employee” under the FTCA and that elected officials act within the scope of their employment when they respond to media inquiries.
Update: On Sept. 15, 2021, the district court denied Trump’s motion to stay (i.e., halt) the proceedings while the case is on appeal before the Second Circuit.
Update: The Second Circuit argument is scheduled for Dec. 3, 2021.
Summer Zervos Defamation Suit
Zervos vs. Trump, No. 150522/2017 (N.Y. Sup Ct. Jan. 17, 2017), appeal docketed, No. APL-2020-00009 (N.Y. Mar. 9, 2020)
Plaintiff: Summer Zervos, former contestant on the Apprentice
Case Summary: On Jan. 17, 2017, Zervos filed a suit in New York State Court against Trump for defamation. During Trump’s campaign, many women, including Zervos, accused Trump of inappropriate sexual conduct. In her complaint against Trump, Zervos claims that in 2007, while she sought employment from Trump, he kissed her on the lips and touched her inappropriately. After she rejected his advances, his attitude became very business-like and he later offered her a job for half the salary she was seeking. She attempted to contact Trump, noting that she felt she was being “penalized for not sleeping with him.” Trump said he could not discuss it with her at the time. Zervos says she decided to come forward with these allegations after the Billy Bush Access Hollywood Tape showed Trump speaking in a derogatory manner toward women. In response to her allegations, Trump claims she was lying and was only making these accusations to help the Clinton campaign or to get fame.
Zervos alleges that, as a result of Trump’s claims, she has suffered both emotional and financial harm.
Case Status: Trump filed a motion to dismiss and a stay for the duration of his presidency. On Oct. 3, 2018, the court denied Trump’s motion, finding that, if the facts alleged by the plaintiff are true, she has a reasonable claim to recover for defamation. The court also found that there were no federalism or comity concerns that would suggest that a state court could not hear suit against the sitting president for nonofficial acts. A panel of New York appellate judges affirmed this judgment in October 2019, finding that the president is “not above the law” and that the defamation suit can go forward.
This motion has been appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, the highest New York state court.
Pending the decision from the New York Court of Appeals, in March 2020, the court ruled that Zervos cannot “dig for evidence” in the interim. In 2021, with Trump out of office, Zervos has filed a motion to move the lawsuit forward.
Update: On Mar. 30, the New York Court of Appeals denied Trump’s appeal on his motion to dismiss the case. Trump originally filed the motion claiming that a state court could not hear a suit against a sitting president. The court stated, in a one-sentence order, that issues were now moot, and the case can now go forward.
Update: On Oct. 4, 2021, the trial court ruled that Zervos could depose Trump before Dec. 23, 2021. According to Law360, this appears to be the “first time that Trump would have to answer questions under oath about his alleged sexual misconduct.” In discussing the schedule for depositions, Michael Rand, a law clerk for New York State Judge Jennifer Schechter, who is overseeing the lawsuit, reportedly “said he expected a trial date to be set sometime in the early part of 2022.”
Mary Trump Fraud Litigation
Trump v. Trump, No. 654698/2020 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Sept. 24, 2020)
Plaintiff: Mary Trump, the former president’s niece
Case Summary: In September 2020, Mary Trump sued Donald Trump, her uncle, for allegedly defrauding her out of tens of millions of dollars. When Mary’s father–Donald Trump’s brother–died in 1981, he left Mary a valuable stake in the Trump property empire. Mary was a minor at the time, so Donald Trump and his siblings took control of her share, ostensibly to look after Mary’s interest over the long run.
But according to Mary, that didn’t happen. In her lawsuit, she alleges that the Trump siblings siphoned off revenue from her share and set up an ongoing scheme to artificially devalue her assets. This went on for nearly two decades. Then, when Trump patriarch Fred Sr. (Donald Trump’s father) died in 1999, Mary took issue with the terms of his will. The Trump siblings immediately pushed back and started maneuvering to force Mary out of the family holdings altogether. After lengthy probate proceedings, and with Mary’s legal fees steadily climbing, the siblings delivered an ultimatum: they would not settle the probate case unless Mary relinquished all interests in the family fortune, including those from her late father.
According to Mary, the Trumps offered a settlement figure that woefully undervalued her share of the family holdings. Still, she ultimately accepted a settlement in April 2001, apparently still unaware she was being sold short.
Then, over fifteen years later, the New York Times broke its 2018 story that the Trump Organization had long been fraudulently manipulating the values of its assets. From there, Mary says she realized that she had settled for tens of millions of dollars less than what her stake was actually worth.
Two years later, Mary published a book accusing the Trumps of shorting her out of her rightful share. She then filed this lawsuit in New York state court on Sept. 24, 2020, accusing Donald Trump and his siblings of fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
Case Status: Trump moved to dismiss the case on Jan. 4, 2021. Mary filed a response on Feb. 26, 2021. As of September 2021, the court has not yet ruled on the motion.
Update: On Sept. 21, 2021, Donald Trump filed his own lawsuit against Mary Trump, the New York Times, and several of its reporters. Mr. Trump alleges that his niece provided confidential documents–including his tax records–to the NYT reporters, who then used those documents to write their 2018 story on the Trump Organization’s alleged manipulation of asset prices. He asserts that her conduct breached their 2001 settlement, and that the Times and its reporters should be liable for encouraging her to do so.
Doe v. The Trump Corporation Class Action
Doe v. Trump Corp., No. 18-cv-09936 (S.D.N.Y. Oct 29, 2018), appeal docketed, No. 20-01706 (2d Cir. May 28, 2020)
Plaintiffs: (Anonymous) Jane Doe, Luke Loe, Mary Moe, Richard Roe
Case Summary: On Oct. 30, 2018, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Trump Corporation, Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and Eric Trump. The complaint alleges that the defendants used their brand name to defraud thousands of working class individuals by promoting numerous businesses in exchange for “secret payments.” The companies include ACN Opportunity, LLC (a business based on a controversial multi-level marketing scheme), the Trump Network, LLC (another multi-level marketing scheme), and Business Strategies Group, LLC (a seminar claiming to sell the Trump secrets to success). The lawsuit also claims that the defendants are liable for a “pattern of racketeering activity” violating the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) as well as activity violating numerous state consumer protection laws concerning fair business practices and competition.
On July 24, 2019, the District Court judge partially granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss. The judge dismissed the RICO claims because the Complaint did not “sufficiently plead that Defendants’ conduct was the proximate cause of Plaintiffs’ losses.” However, she ruled that the other claims concerning the state laws will not be dismissed under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).
Case Status: The Trumps’ moved to compel forced arbitration and the district court judge denied the motion in April 2020. The court held that the defendants were not party to the arbitration agreement (between ACN and the plaintiffs) and thus, could not compel arbitration. She also found that the motion to compel arbitration was in bad faith as they are acting in a manner that is “substantively prejudicial towards the plaintiffs” and not within the spirit of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA). The Trumps have filed an interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit.
Following the denial of compelled arbitration, the Trumps also filed a motion to stay, or a motion to halt the legal process. The district court denied this motion, citing the four traditional factors that must be balanced when granting a stay and finding that the defendants have not met the requirements to grant a stay.
DC Civil Suit over Misuse of 2017 Inauguration Funds
District of Columbia v. 58th Presidential Inauguration Comm., No. 2020-CA-00488-B (D.C. Super. Ct. Sept. 9, 2020)
Prosecuting Office: DC Attorney General (AG)
Case Summary: In the run-up to Trump’s 2017 swearing-in, his inaugural committee raised a record $107 million to spend on inauguration festivities. As a nonprofit, the inaugural committee was bound to use these charitable funds for the public good, namely by organizing events to celebrate the 2017 presidential inauguration.
But as the DC AG alleges, the inaugural committee used over $1 million of those funds in an improper bid to enrich the Trump family’s private businesses. DC’s attorneys are now suing the inaugural committee, the Trump International Hotel, and the Trump Organization over that alleged misspending. Chief among the allegations, the DC AG claims that the committee paid exorbitant rates to rent space in the Trump International Hotel in downtown DC. The committee, for instance, allegedly paid $175,000 to rent the main ballroom on the same day that another nonprofit paid only $5,000–a rate 35 times higher. On top of that, the committee allegedly ignored much better deals available at other upscale locations, settling instead on overpaying for space at the Trump location.
The DC AG frames these payments as an under-the-table attempt to divert charitable funds to the Trumps’ private holdings. The complaint focuses on possible misconduct by committee executive Rick Gates, who also held key roles in the Trump campaign. (Gates would later cooperate with the Mueller investigation.) To tie in the Trump entities, the complaint asserts that the Trump businesses knew it was overcharging the non-profit committee, and points to internal negotiations between the parties that allegedly show both sides were aware of the extreme rates. The DC AG is asking the court to compel the Trump business to put the misspent funds into a trust where they can be put toward charitable purposes.
Case Status: The defendants–the committee itself along with the two Trump businesses–moved to dismiss the suit, but the district court denied that motion in September 2020. On Jan. 11, 2021, the DC AG added a new allegation that the committee improperly used its nonprofit funds to pay a hotel bill on behalf of Trump’s private business. The suit is currently in discovery, and the AG’s office has already deposed several high-level Trump executives, including Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
Update: The DC AG moved for summary judgment on Mar. 24, 2021. All three defendants responded by filing their own motions for summary judgment on Apr. 8, 2021.
Update: On July 28, 2021 in a 3-0 decision, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s judgement and ruled that the Trump family could not compel arbitration. The court found that since there was no “close relationship” between Trumps and ACN such that the plaintiffs could reasonably infer that their arbitration agreement extended to the Trumps. Thus, the court concluded, the “defendants are not entitled to compel the plaintiffs to arbitrate this dispute.” As of September 2021, the court has not yet ruled on the summary judgment motions.
Karen Bass et al. Incitement Suit for Jan. 6 Capitol Attack
Thompson v. Trump, No. 21-cv-00400 (D.D.C. filed Feb. 16, 2021)
Plaintiff: Rep. Karen R. Bass, Rep. Stephen I. Cohen, Rep. Veronica Escobar, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Rep. Henry C. Johnson, Jr., Rep. Marcia C. Kaptur, Rep. Barbara J. Lee, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, Rep. Maxine Waters, and Rep. Bonnie M. Watson Coleman, represented by the NAACP
Case Summary: On Feb. 16, 2021, Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson sued former President Trump and Rudy Giuliani along with two right-wing militia groups known as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, for violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1985(1). In the complaint, Thompson alleges that Trump violated the Ku Klux Klan Act by inciting the rioters with the intent to prevent Members of Congress from discharging their official duties of the timely approval of the Electoral College vote. He argues that after Trump’s loss in the November 2020 election, the then-President set out on a campaign to mobilize his supporters, culminating in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. It portrays Trump’s rhetoric on the morning of Jan. 6 as a call to arms and as intended to prevent the certification of the election.
The Act was passed in 1871 in response to violence and intimidation by the KKK intended to stop Black people from voting. The legislation allows Members of Congress to sue individuals who conspire to violently “molest, interrupt, hinder, or impede” the discharge of a public official’s duties.
Thompson seeks compensatory damages for his emotional distress suffered during the attack in addition to punitive damages.
Case Status: On Apr. 7, 2021, ten additional members of Congress joined the lawsuit as plaintiffs. The defendants then moved to dismiss on May 26. In Trump’s motion, he argued (i) that he has absolute immunity because he was acting as president; (ii) that even if he did not have absolute immunity, the Westfall Act shields him from any personal liability; (iii) that members of Congress cannot sue under the KKK Act; and (iv) that his speech was protected by the First Amendment. As of September 2021, the court has not ruled on the motions.
Update: On July 21, 2021, Rep. Thompson announced that he would withdraw from the lawsuit to avoid any conflict with the Jan. 6 House Select Committee, which Thompson is chairing. The other plaintiffs–all members of Congress who are not on the Committee–confirmed that they would continue the lawsuit.
Eric Swalwell Incitement Suit for Jan. 6 Riots
Swalwell v. Trump, No 21-cv-00586 (D.D.C. filed Mar. 5, 2021)
Plaintiff: Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Case Summary: On Mar. 5, 2021, Representative Eric Swalwell sued Donald Trump and several associates in DC federal court over the Jan. 6 riots. Much like Representative Bennie Thompson’s related suit, Swalwell alleges that Trump and his co-defendants–Donald Trump Jr., Representative Mo Brooks (R-AL), and Rudy Giuliani–violated the Ku Klux Klan Act by conspiring to interfere with the Electoral College count on Jan. 6.
Swalwell’s suit also goes one step further: it claims that the defendants should be held civilly liable for negligence because they committed criminal incitement under DC’s local code, which establishes the standard of care. Notably, Swalwell says that Trump violated the same DC code–§22-1321(a)(2)–that DC AG Karl Racine is apparently focusing on in his own criminal investigation into Trump’s conduct.
Beyond the civil rights and incitement counts, Swalwell also claims that the defendants are liable for encouraging (aiding and abetting) the rioters’ violent conduct and for intentionally inflicting emotional distress on members of Congress in connection with the attack on the Capitol.
Case Status: Swalwell filed his complaint on Mar. 5, 2021.
Update: On May 17, 2021, Giuliani filed a motion to dismiss the claims against him. He argued that his speech did not qualify as incitement, that he never formed a conspiracy with the other defendants or the rioters, and that his speech was ultimately protected by the First Amendment.
Update: On May 24, 2021, Donald Trump and his son Donald Jr. filed their own motion to dismiss. Most notably, former President Trump argued that he had absolute immunity against Swalwell’s claims because Trump’s alleged misconduct was within the scope of his official duties as president. Both Trump and Trump Jr. also contended that their speech was protected under the First Amendment and the canonical Brandenburg test. The Trumps also advanced various other arguments ranging from standing to the political question doctrine to even a claim that Swalwell was barred from suing Trump over the same conduct for which Trump was acquitted at his impeachment trial.
Update: On July 1, 2021, Swalwell filed a motion for default judgment against Brooks, arguing that Brooks had missed the deadline to respond to the lawsuit. Brooks responded with his own motion urging the court to dismiss the lawsuit because he was acting within the “scope of his employment,” which would essentially block the case under the Westfall Act. The district court denied Swalwell’s motion for a default judgment on July 5 but has not yet ruled on Brooks’s motion.
Update: On July 27, 2021, the Justice Department submitted a brief stating that Brooks was not acting within the scope of his employment and thus not shielded by the Westfall Act. The House of Representatives filed a response taking a “non-participation approach” (silence) on the question whether Brooks acted within his scope of employment. The Chairwoman of the Committee on House Administration submitted a brief stating that Rep. Brooks was not acting within his scope of employment.
Capitol Police Suit for Jan. 6 Riots
Blassingame v. Trump, No. 21-cv-00858 (D.D.C. filed Mar. 30, 2021)
Plaintiff: James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby, two Capitol police officers
Case Summary: On Mar. 30, 2021, two Capitol Police Officers sued Donald Trump for injuries they sustained during the Jan. 6 riots in DC. The officers–James Blassingame and Sidney Hemby–say they were maced with bear spray, attacked with fists and flagpoles, and even crushed against a door as they tried to protect the Capitol from pro-Trump intruders.
Much like the other Jan. 6 suits against Trump, the officers pin their injuries on Trump’s incendiary rhetoric before and during violence. Both allege that Trump directed the rioters to assault them, aided the rioters in committing those assaults, and negligently incited the riot in violation of DC’s public safety codes. Blassingame also accuses Trump of directing intentional infliction of emotional distress, pointing to the racial slurs and taunts that the intruders allegedly hurled at him during the violence.
Case Status: The officers filed their suit in DC federal court on Mar. 30, 2021. On Apr. 28, 2021, the plaintiffs added two new conspiracy claims against Trump, one based on the KKK Act and the other on common law conspiracy. They allege that Trump illegally conspired with the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers to storm the Capitol, which in turn caused the plaintiffs’ injuries.
Update: Donald Trump filed a motion to dismiss on June 24, 2021.
Second Capitol Police Suit over the Jan. 6 Riots
Smith v. Trump, No. 21-cv-02265 (D.D.C. filed Aug. 26, 2021)
Plaintiff: Seven Capitol Police officers
Case Summary: On Aug. 26, 2021, a second group of Capitol Police officers filed suit over injuries they suffered while defending the Capitol on Jan. 6. The officers allege that Trump and his co-defendants–including the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers–conspired to incite a riot and attack the Capitol, leaving the officers physically and emotionally injured.
Like the other Jan. 6 lawsuits against Trump, the complaint asserts that Trump violated the KKK Act by conspiring to instigate the riots. The complaint also alleges that unnamed defendants–listed as “John Does” who carried out the attack–physically assaulted the officers at Trump’s provocation, which could make Trump liable for the officers’ injuries.
The plaintiffs also add in a unique claim not found in other Jan. 6 lawsuits against Trump: that the defendants violated the DC Bias-Related Crimes Act, a local hate-crime statute. According to the complaint, the defendants were motivated by political bias against the Democratic Party when they instigated and executed the Capitol attack.
Case Status: The officers filed their suit in DC federal court on Aug 26, 2021.
NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund Voting Rights Case
Mich. Welfare Rights Org. v. Trump, No. 20-cv-03388 (D.D.C. filed Nov. 20, 2020)
Plaintiff: Michigan Welfare Rights Organization and the NAACP, represented by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund (LDF).
Case Summary: On Nov. 20, 2020, LDF sued then-President Trump and the Trump campaign alleging that their post-election conduct violated Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. § 10307(b). After losing the election, Trump spent weeks pressuring Republican election officials not to certify the election—in particular, the complaint examines the actions of Wayne County Republican election officials who first voted not to certify the election, though they eventually did. Section 11(b) forbids intimidation of voters, those aiding voters, and certain election officials. Voting is broadly defined in the Voting Rights Act, covering “all action necessary to make a vote effective[,] … including … having such ballot counted properly and included in the appropriate totals of votes cast.”
In December 2020, the complaint was amended to include the NAACP as a plaintiff, the Republican National Committee as a defendant, and alleged a new claim: that defendants violated the Ku Klux Klan Act, which prohibits conspiracies to deprive someone of equal protection under law or the right to vote. 42 U.S.C. § 1985(3). LDF argues that Trump’s efforts to discard votes in cities with large Black populations meets the statutory definition.
LDF seeks statutory damages, a declaratory judgment, and injunctive relief that would prevent defendants from intimidating voters and election officials in the future.
Case Status: On Feb. 25, 2021, the defendants moved to dismiss the case. They had a variety of arguments, including that the case was filed in the wrong court, that the cited statutes do not allow a private party to bring litigation, and that their conduct did not violate the statutes. As of September 2021, the court has not yet ruled on the motions.
NY Civil Suit over Fraudulent Real Estate Practices
People v. Trump Org., No. 451685/2020 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Dec. 15, 2020)
Plaintiff: New York Attorney General (AG)
Case Summary: In March 2019, New York Attorney General Letitia James launched a civil probe investigating allegations that the Trump organization inflated and deflated property values to avoid tax liability and for other financial benefits. She began her investigation after Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified before Congress that Trump had engaged in fraud. While there is some overlap, James has noted that her investigation differs from and is independent of the Manhattan DA criminal investigation.
Much of her probe has focused on Seven Springs, a Trump-owned property in New York. In December 2019, James subpoenaed the Trump Organization, seeking records related to a $21 million tax deduction that Trump claimed against the property in 2015. Per her court filings, James is exploring whether Trump improperly inflated the property’s value to boost the size of the tax benefit.
James is also looking into other transactions relating to Trump properties. She is investigating whether Trump failed to pay taxes on debt forgiven during the financial restructuring of the Trump Hotel & Tower in Chicago and the appraisal of the LA Trump National Golf Club used for his conservation tax break, which was substantially higher than metrics typically used to value golf properties.
Case Status: In connection with the Seven Springs subpoenas, James’s office deposed Eric Trump in October 2020. She also sought related records held by Trump’s tax lawyers. His counsel initially refused to produce them, claiming they were shielded by attorney-client privilege. The state court judge disagreed, ruling on Jan. 29, 2021 that the tax attorneys must turn over thousands of documents about the tax deductions.
Update: On May 18, 2021, Fabien Levy, a spokesperson for New York’s Attorney General said, “We have informed the Trump Organization that our investigation into the organization is no longer purely civil in nature. We are now actively investigating the Trump Organizations in a criminal capacity, along with the Manhattan DA.”
Scotland Unexplained Wealth Orders
Plaintiff: Avaaz Foundation against the Scottish Ministers and Others
Case Summary: On February 3, 2021, the Scottish Parliament voted to reject calls from the opposition party, the Scottish Greens, to investigate the Trump Organization’s golf courses through an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO). UWOs are a mechanism designed to prevent suspected corrupt foreign officials from laundering potentially stolen funds into the UK. They require an individual or organization to reveal the sources of their unexplained wealth and, while they do not automatically trigger criminal proceedings, they can result at least in confiscation of assets. The concerns that led to the push to investigate Trump arose when Trump spent many hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase and refurbish golf courses within Scotland with all-cash transactions. This was particularly suspicious since Trump had financed large scale purchases with debt prior to these transactions. It is disputed whether Eric Trump made a statement indicating that the funds had come from Russia.
The co-leader of the Scottish Greens stated, “Scotland cannot be a country where anyone with the money can buy whatever land and property they want, no questions asked, and the Scottish Greens will continue to challenge vested interests that protect people like Trump rather than our communities.” Eric Trump criticized the suit, stating that “at a critical time when politicians should be focused on saving lives and reopening businesses in Scotland, they are focused on advancing their personal agendas.”
Case Status: The non-profit global rights pressure group, Avaaz Foundation, sought to challenge the Scottish Parliament vote and, in May, filed a petition in the highest civil court in Scotland to review the decision not to pursue a UWO. On Aug. 11, 2021, Lord Sandison of the Scottish Court of Session ruled the petition seeking “judicial review of the approach of the Scottish ministers in determining whether to apply to the court for UWOs” should “proceed without condition or restriction.” He ruled that their case has “real prospects of success.” Scotland’s High Court will likely hear the case later this year.
Trump Tower Assault Suit
Galicia v. Trump, No. 24973/2015 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Sept. 9, 2015)
Plaintiff: A group of six protesters
Case Summary: On Sept. 3, 2015, the plaintiffs were demonstrating on the sidewalk outside Trump Tower in Manhattan. According to the plaintiffs–who self-identify as of Mexican origin–they were protesting the “inflammatory” anti-Mexican statements that Trump made during 2015 campaign events. Soon after the plaintiffs arrived, Trump Tower security guards allegedly attacked them and destroyed their protest signs.
That same month, the plaintiffs sued Trump, the Trump Organization, Trump’s campaign, Trump’s head bodyguard, and the alleged attackers in New York state court. The plaintiffs allege that Trump and his co-defendants are liable for assault and battery, conversion and destruction of property, and tortious interference with political speech. To tie Trump to his guards’ conduct, the plaintiffs allege that Trump was careless in hiring and supervising his security detail and, separately, that Trump should be held vicariously liable–a type of secondary liability often used to hold employers to account for their employee’s harmful actions. To prevail against Trump on this vicarious liability theory, the plaintiffs would need to show that the guards (i) were acting as Trump’s employees or agents at the time and (ii) attacked the plaintiffs to advance Trump’s interests in some way.
Case Status: Trump and his co-defendants moved to dismiss the claims for property destruction and interference with political speech in Dec. 2015. The court dismissed the political speech interference claim but permitted the rest of the claims to advance.
After the defendants moved for summary judgment in 2017, the court dismissed the negligent hiring and supervision claims against Trump and the Trump Organization. However, the court allowed the remaining claims to go forward, including the vicarious liability claims that Trump should be personally liable for his guards’ conduct.
Update: On Oct. 18, 2021, Trump sat for a four-hour deposition to answer questions about the alleged assault. According to the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Trump was asked about “a variety of issues including statements he has made at various campaign events and rallies that counsel believes encouraged violence at those events or encouraged security guards to engage in violence or the confiscation of property.” The plaintiffs’ lawyer also said he intends to play a video of Trump’s deposition at trial, which is not yet scheduled.
Criminal Investigations into Trump’s Finances
Trump v. Deutsche Bank, No. 19-cv-03826 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 29, 2019)
Trump v. Vance, No. 19-cv-08694 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 19, 2019)
Prosecuting Office: In 2019, then-President Trump sued to block subpoenas issued by three House Committees and the Manhattan District Attorney seeking his financial information in 2019. As of Feb. 22, the Manhattan DA now has access to Trump’s tax information.
Case Summary: In 2019, the House Intelligence and Finance Committees issued subpoenas to both Deutsche Bank and Capital One seeking information about then-President Trump’s finances. Before the banks complied with the subpoenas, Trump sued, seeking a declaratory judgment that they were unenforceable and an injunction that would have prevented the banks from disclosing Trump’s financial information. In addition, the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed Mazars, Trump’s accounting firm, demanding additional accounting information. Trump again sued to block the subpoena.
In parallel, Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., subpoenaed Mazars, for access to Trump’s tax records. Trump again sued to prevent the disclosure of this information.
All three cases reached the Supreme Court, where they were decided on the same day, July 9, 2020. The congressional subpoenas were combined into one case, and were remanded so the lower courts could consider separation of powers concerns raised by congressional committees subpoenaing a sitting president. In the Vance case, the Court ruled that a president’s financial information could be subpoenaed by a local district attorney.
Case Status: With the seating of the new Congress in January 2021, the Congressional subpoenas expired. The Vance subpoena again reached the Supreme Court, which on Feb. 22, refused to block it. His spokesperson has confirmed that the office now has access to Trump’s tax returns, including millions of pages of documents. Charges have not been filed.
Update-1: New reporting on Mar. 1 revealed that Vance’s investigation has focused on Trump Organization chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, whose potential cooperation with prosecutors could be a significant breakthrough in the investigation. On Mar. 31, the New York Times reported that Vance’s office has subpoenaed Weisselberg’s personal bank records, and on Apr. 8, investigators took possession of financial records from Weisselberg’s daughter-in-law.
Update-2: New reporting on Mar. 8 revealed that Vance’s probe has expanded to include investigation of a $130 million loan the Trump Organization received to build its Chicago tower, and whether the forgiveness of that loan was reported as income, as required by the IRS.
Update-3: On May, 25, 2021, the Washington Post reported that Vance has convened a special grand jury that is “expected to decide whether to indict former president Donald Trump, other executives at his company or the business itself should prosecutors present the panel with criminal charges.” According to the Post, “The move indicates that District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.’s investigation of the former president and his business has reached an advanced stage …. It suggests, too, that Vance believes he has found evidence of a crime — if not by Trump then by someone potentially close to him or by his company.”
Update-4: On Jun. 4, ABC News and the New York Times report that Trump Organization senior vice president and controller, Jeff McConney is among a number of witnesses to have already appeared before the special grand jury. He is reportedly the first employee of the company called to testify.
Update-5: On July 1, prosecutors indicted the Trump Organization and the chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg with running a tax fraud scheme for over fifteen years. The indictment charges Weisselberg, the Trump Organization, and the Trump Payroll Co. with compensating Weisselberg and other Trump Organization executives with off-the-books funds that were unreported or misreported to federal, state, and local tax authorities.
The indictment includes a reference to the former President. It states that “as part of the scheme to defraud, Trump Corporation personnel … arranged for tuition expenses for Weisselberg’s family members to be paid by personal checks drawn on the account of and signed by Donald J. ‘Trump.” The indictment also refers to an “unindicted co-conspirator,” who is Jeff McConney, the Trump Organization’s controller, a person familiar with the investigation told CNN.
Update-6: Matthew Calamari Jr., the Trump Organization’s corporate director of security, and Jeffrey McConney, controller of the Trump Organization, appeared before a Manhattan grand jury on September 2. Calamari received “transactional immunity for the topics he testified about” while McConney was reportedly asked to clarify his previous grand jury testimony and respond to inquiries related to Calamari Sr.
Westchester, New York Criminal Investigation of Trump Organization Golf Course
Prosecuting Office: Westchester District Attorney’s Office
Case Summary: Westchester District Attorney’s Office of Mimi E. Rocah has reportedly launched a criminal investigation, led by Elliott B. Jacobson, examining, at least in part, whether the Trump Organization misled local officials about the property value of its golf course to reduce its taxes. The full scope of the investigation is unknown but the office has subpoenaed records from the course.