Kurt Eichenwald’s pre-election Trump exposé in Newsweek

35An article by Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek  “Donald Trump’s Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders” from October 31, 2016  reveals Trump’s long history of contemptuous manipulation of the legal system.  Eichenwald focuses on a number of Trump cases to detail how, through a pattern of delay, diversion, lies, destruction of evidence, and out-right violation of court orders, Trump has frustrated parties suing him for grievances and government lawyers seeking to enforce regulations.

Here’s Eichenwald’s lead in:

“Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.”

Eichenwald discloses how as far back as 1973, Trump and his lawyers were deliberately abusing the legal system.  In 1973, Trump was sued for refusing to rent to Blacks.

Some excerpts from Eichenwald: “The Trump strategy was simple: deny, impede and delay, while destroying documents the court had ordered them to hand over.”

“The [Trump] family’s attempts to slow down the federal case were at times nonsensical. Trump submitted an affidavit contending that the government had engaged in some unspecified wrongdoing by releasing statements to the press on the day it brought the case without first having any ‘formal communications’ with him; he contended that he’d learned of the complaint only while listening to his car radio that morning. But Trump’s sworn statement was a lie. Court records show that the government had filed its complaint at 10 a.m. and phoned him  almost immediately afterward.”

“For months, the Trumps ignored the government’s discovery demands, even though court procedure in a civil or criminal case requires each side to produce relevant documents in a timely manner.”

“Yet when the government filed its standard discovery requests, the Trumps reacted as though seeking that information was outrageous. They argued in court that prosecutors had no case and wanted to riffle through corporate files on a fishing expedition. Once again, this led to more delays, more replies, more hearings…and another specious argument thrown out of court.

 Six months after the original filing, the case was nowhere because the Trumps had repeatedly ignored the deadlines to produce records and answers to questions, known as interrogatories. When a government attorney finally telephoned a Trump lawyer to find out why, he was told the Trumps had not even begun preparing their answers and had no plans to do so. The Trumps also postponed and blocked depositions, refused to provide a description of their records, as required, and would not turn over any documents.”

“…Finally, under subpoena, Trump appeared for a short deposition. When asked about the missing documents, he made a shocking admission: The Trumps had been destroying their corporate records for the previous six months and had no document-retention program. They had conducted no inspections to determine which files might have been sought in the discovery requests or might otherwise be related to the case. Instead, in order to ‘save space,’ Trump testified, officials with his company had been tossing documents into the shredder and garbage.”

“,,,The judge opted to allow the government access to the company offices so they could find the records themselves.

In three letters and three phone calls, the government notified the Trumps that this inspection would take place on June 12, 1974. When they arrived at the Trump offices, Trump was there, but he and everyone else were ‘surprised’ that prosecutors had come and refused to allow them access to documents without their defense lawyers present. A prosecutor called those lawyers, but they were not in their offices. The frustrated prosecutors then gave up and headed back to court.”

“…They were then hit with a new delaying tactic. The Trumps submitted a filing based on statements by Trump that radically misrepresented what had occurred that day. He claimed a prosecutor, Donna Goldstein, had arrived at the company without notifying the Trumps’ counsel, refused to telephone their lawyer and demanded access to Trump’s office. The prosecutor—accompanied, the Trumps claimed, by five ‘stormtroopers’—then banged on doors throughout the office, insisting she and her team be allowed to ‘swarm haphazardly through all the Trump files and to totally disrupt their daily business routine.’

At the same time, in a move that caused another huge delay, the Trumps claimed that Goldstein had been threatening Trump employees who were potential witnesses.”

“…These allegations of misconduct, which demanded sanctions against the government for abusing its power, required more hearings. Once again, the Trump claims went nowhere.

In June 1975, more than 18 months after the government filed the case and with the Trumps still withholding potentially relevant records, the two sides struck a settlement.”

Or, from another case:

“[Judge] Streitfeld ordered Trump executives to file sworn statements attesting to how their email systems had worked from 1996 onward. In response, Trump Hotels filed an affidavit from one of its information technology managers stating that it had had no servers prior to 2001.

That was false and by deposing numerous IT specialists with two Trump companies—the Trump Organization and Trump Hotels—lawyers for Power Plant gradually chipped away at it. Finally, during a deposition nine months after he had signed the deceptive affidavit, the same Trump executive admitted his assertions in it were untrue. In fact, an IBM Domino server for emails and other files had been installed in 1999, the same year witnesses for Power Plant contended that Trump had learned of the casino deal. Prior to that, as early as 1997, the Trump corporations used servers off-site operated by a company called Jersey Cape, according to sworn testimony by one of the Trump IT experts; the following year, the Trump Organization and Trump Hotels moved to another email provider, Technology 21.

These startling revelations changed nothing, however, because there was no trove of documents. The Trump records had been destroyed. Despite knowing back in 2001 that Trump might want to file a lawsuit, his companies had deleted emails and other records without checking if they might be evidence in his case. Beginning around 2003, the company wiped clear the data from everyone’s computers every year.”

Eichenwald’s review of cases goes on.  The fact is that the Trump pattern of obstruction is behavior Trump and his father were schooled in by Trump’s mentor, the mob lawyer Roy Cohn.  The court system does not, and cannot, provide a level playing field between rich and poor or properly martial the misconduct of a billionaire with a squadron of lawyers willing to lie, delay, and obstruct.  Trump knows that and has played that reality for all it is worth.

Trump’s abuse of the legal system, alone, should have disqualified him from his candidacy for the Presidency.  It should have led to sanctions for contempt of court.  It should have been widely disseminated by mainstream media.  And the public should have embraced that knowledge to soundly defeat Trump in the election.  Yet, while anyone with his ear to the ground would have known the general outline of Trump’s character, and while Eichenwald’s expose was released more than a week before the election, Trump, even to this day, enjoys the backing of his party, substantial mainstream acceptance, and a free rein to exercise his considerable “skills” on the world at large.  I say, “enough already.”

 

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