Donald Trump insists on mentioning 30,000 emails that are missing when it comes to the investigation of his rival Hillary Clinton. But he has a history of defying destroying documents and emails himself in defiance of court orders.
Newsweek reported on Monday that the Republican nominee has destroyed thousands of digital and paper documents, including emails, required for official court proceedings, often blatantly in contempt of those same courts.
During their investigation, Newsweek discovered thousands of pages of judicial orders involved in litigation against Trump, many filed by ordinary citizens, that forced those suing him to spend large amounts of money for lawyers in an attempt to obtain pertinent records.
One of the most recent and worse cases of this obstruction through the hiding and destruction of documentation was when Donald Trump tried to sue two of the Hard Rock Cafe casinos in Florida. Trump complained that he was cheated out of the deal by a former associate.
However, packaging the casino deals with the local Seminole tribe took several years, probably causing the statute of limitations to expire before Trump filed his suit. The clock for the case started ticking at the point when Trump discovered the collusion, so the defendant, Power Plant Entertainment, LLC needed only prove that Trump knew of the deal with the former associate in early 2000 for the court to throw the case out. However, Trump’s lies and obstruction caused the case to drag on for years. The defendants claimed he was informed in 1999, but Trump claimed he learned about the deal in 2001. The lawyers filed discovery demands for emails, computer files, and other documentation.
A year later, Trump Hotels had handed over no more than a box of papers, most of which were not relevant, and no digital files or emails, claiming they didn’t have a server or computer system before 2001.
These lies were uncovered after an investigation took depositions from many IT specialists for the Trump companies who testified that an onsite server had been put into service in 1999, and that prior to that, the company managed with an off-site server commissioned in 1997. Sworn statements by Trump company IT personnel proved that a Trump Hotel affidavit swearing that it had no servers prior to 2001 was a complete falsehood.
In fact, beginning in 2003, when Donald Trump filed the lawsuit against Power Plant, the company instituted a policy of wiping their computers annually.
In a more recent case, Trump was sued in 2009 by a group who claimed that the real estate developer had conned them into buying apartments in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, saying that he was personally involved in the project. In fact, Trump had simply licensed his name to the developer and walked away from the project.
Donald Trump claimed that he had no liability insurance to cover his loss in the suit, which was also completely false. Apparently Trump had licensed his name to several such projects and was being sued by those taken in by his “brand.” Trump claimed to have no insurance to cover the loss to avoid a settlement, hoping to discourage others who had suffered by his deception from suing him as well.
Two years after the initial lawsuit was filed, a Trump lawyer admitted that Trump was insured for up to $5 million.
Kurt Eichenwald of Newsweek states that the use of untruthful affidavits, deception, and the hiding or destruction of legal documents by Trump goes back to 1973, when his real estate company was sued by the federal government over racist real estate practices, when it refused to rent property to African-Americans. During this case, Trump’s strategy was to deny the allegations, impede investigation, and delay the proceedings while simultaneously destroying documents ordered by the court.
During the lawsuit, Donald Trump lied to reporters, telling them that the federal government had no evidence and were trying to force he and his father to rent to welfare recipients who could not pay the rent.
Trump then submitted an affidavit saying that the federal government had told the press about the lawsuit before informing him of the suit. However, this also was a lie, as court records proved that he had been phoned immediately after the complaint had been filed, with the press receiving a release afterward. Trump claimed that the phone call was not “formal” notification, and it delayed the case as federal lawyers were required to appear in court to explain the false charge.
Another delay tactic used by Trump was to file a countersuit against the federal government for libel. This again delayed the proceedings with superfluous motions and hearings, although the court threw out Trump’s allegations.
In response to normal requests for documents, the Trumps reacted with indignation and argued that the government simply wanted to plow through the company records, even though such requests are honored in a timely fashion by company lawyers to avoid criminal charges of obstruction. However, the claim caused more delays in the in case, only for Trump’s charges to again be thrown out of court.
The Trumps repeatedly ignored deadlines in the case, refused to produce records, and filed counter charges, until the Trumps’ lawyer finally admitted to a government official six months later that the Trumps had not prepared their response and had no intention of doing so. They were simply going to continue to obstruct and delay, and would not turn over any of the documentation ordered by the court.
The court issued a subpoena, and Donald Trump made a deposition. When questioned about the court-ordered documents, Donald Trump admitted that the company had been destroying the records over the last six months. The company had made no attempt to find the documents required for the case, Trump testified, but instead, had tossed them into the shredder and the trash in order to “save space.”
Eventually, the Trumps had to settle out of court twice for their discriminatory business practices.
Donald Trump and his company have a history of deleting, hiding, and destroying important documents that goes back over 40 years. During his campaign, Trump has made a habit of accusing his opponent of his own flaws in order to turn attention away from his own dodgy business practices. So far, Trump has revealed a decades-long history of racism, obstruction of justice, and underhanded manipulation of the both the courts and tax laws.
As Kurt Eichenwald states in his expose:
‘He [Trump] promised to turn over his tax returns and his health records — just as he promised to comply with document discovery requirements in so many lawsuits — then reneged.
‘As a result, he has left a sparse evidentiary trail that can be used to assess his wealth, his qualifications for the presidency or even his fitness.’
You can read the entire report in detail from Newsweek here.
Feature image via Getty Images.