Ethics

Lawsuit: The Trump Organization Routinely Deleted All Emails

USA Today continues to examine the trove of over 3,500 lawsuits Donald Trump has been named in and they came across a case that is amusing, to say the least.

In a lawsuit that was filed by the Trump Organization against a former employee, the court ordered the organization to hand over all communications in an effort to corroborate his claim that his former employee fed company secrets to a rival.

Trump's lawsuit against his former employee didn't turn out as well as they hoped, however, because the Trump Organization deleted all of their records between 1996 and 2001.

Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld was stunned. “He has a house up in Palm Beach County listed for $125 million, but he doesn’t keep emails. That’s a tough one,” he said, according to transcripts obtained by USA TODAY. “If somebody starts to put forth as a fact something that doesn’t make any sense to me and causes me to have a concern about their credibility in the discovery process, that's not a good direction to go, and I am really having a hard time with this.” [...]

The preservation of email was a central point of contention in the suit filed in 2004 by Trump's publicly traded casino company, called Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, against a former employee, Richard Fields. The gist of the Trump company's suit in a Broward County, Fla., court was that while he was working with Trump, Fields had developed the idea of working with the Seminole Tribe in Florida to build a casino, then told Trump the idea wasn’t going to fly. Fields then left Trump’s employ at the end of the 1990s and struck the same deal with other partners.

Trump's company argued that all profits from Fields' new venture belonged to Trump, but Trump's lawyers couldn't prove anything because they deleted all of their own records. The case was ultimately settled out of court.

I won't say this is a direct parallel to Hillary Clinton deleting personal emails from her private email server because this is actually worse. Clinton deleted emails of a personal nature from her private server while the entire Trump Organization destroyed company records as a matter of routine.

The Trump Organization settled the case out of court just before Judge Streitfeld was preparing to rule if Trump should be sanctioned for destroying evidence.

Some would undoubtedly say the Secretary of State should be held to a higher standard than a slumlord like Donald Trump, but the argument against Clinton's deletion of personal emails is that she may have deleted evidence that she, you know, did Benghazi. Or something. She allegedly deleted the smoking gun that demonstrates she masterminded the whole attack!

You may or may not agree that this is worse or maybe even not as bad, but I think this undercuts one of Trump's only arguments against Clinton. Pretty soon he's going to run out of arguments because everything Trump could accuse Clinton of he is also guilty of. That won't stop him from making those arguments, but it will reduce their impact.

Clinton handed over 30,000 pages of work-related emails to the State Department.

Given the number of lawsuits Trump has been named in, stories like this could appear every week for the foreseeable future.

  • muselet

    You’ll be able to knock me over with a proverbial if our glorious news media give this story one ten-thousandth the attention they’ve given the “Hillary Clinton deleted emails, SCANDAL!” non-story.

    –alopecia

  • I never thought I would see the day that USA Today was doing such outstanding journalism and would be so important in a time of crisis.

    • Aynwrong

      Have they had their credentials revoked by Drumpf yet? If and when they do, they should publicly brag about it. Talk about a point of pride.

  • Draxiar

    “Given the number of lawsuits Trump has been named in, stories like this could appear every week for the foreseeable future.”
    And I hope the press features one every week for the foreseeable future.

    • Ken Kohl

      I like that. Maybe increase the drumbeat as we get into the Fall.