Donald Trump’s pending lawsuits and his presidency – BBC News

Donald Trump’s pending lawsuits and his presidency
11 November 2016

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump listens to a question as he appears at the “Retired American Warriors” conference during a campaign stop in Herndon, Virginia.Image
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Donald Trump is heading to the White House with numerous private lawsuits. What are they and how might they affect his presidency? Even by the standards of billionaire businessmen, Donald Trump is an unusually litigious man who has been involved in thousands of lawsuits – both those he has launched and those he has defended – over the years.
The president-elect has been party to some 4,000 lawsuits over the last 30 years and is currently facing 75 active lawsuits, according to analysis by USA Today newspaper.
By far the most pressing – and potentially embarrassing for the newly elected leader – are several lawsuits launched over the now-defunct Trump University, which center on former students claiming they were charged tens of thousands of dollars for courses that promised to unlock the secrets of real estate entrepreneurship – and didn’t. Mr Trump denies the claims.

Because these were launched long before he assumed office, no presidential immunity statutes apply and Mr Trump will have to attend court when required.
Trump University
Donald Trump listens as Michael Sexton speaks at the launch of the Trump University investment school in 2005

The biggest fraud case, filed in 2010, Low v Trump University, is set to start on 28 November in San Diego. It is brought by students who claim they were deceived by Trump University’s marketing.

Mr Trump’s lawyers have asked for the trial to be delayed until early next year, arguing he needs time to work on the transition to the presidency. They have also indicated they are open to settlement talks.

Mr Trump has also accused the judge, Gonzalo Curiel, of having “an inherent conflict of interest” because he was born to Mexican parents. During his election campaign, the president-elect pledged to build a wall on the US-Mexico border and called Mexicans “rapists”, “murderers” and “criminals”.

The second case, Cohen v Trump, also in San Diego, alleges Trump’s “school” was really a criminal organisation and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Lawyers are currently fighting over evidence and a trial date hasn’t been set.

A third case in New York alleges Mr Trump’s unlicensed university scammed New Yorkers out of a collective $40m (£32m). A judge decided in March that the case would go to trial, but Mr Trump has appealed the ruling.
Libel, fees, sexual harassment

Mr Trump owns about a dozen golf courses around the world
Mr Trump’s companies face open cases of fraud, unpaid bills, contract disputes and sexual discrimination in the 75 lawsuits, according to USA Today. For example, members of Mr Trump’s golf course in Jupiter, Florida, are suing the businessman for $2.4m for taking fees and dues while allegedly blocking admission to the actual club.
A former employee of the same club also brought a lawsuit last month, alleging she was unlawfully fired after reporting sexual harassment by a colleague.

Mr Trump is also defending lawsuits tied to his campaign. In New York State, Republican political consultant Cheryl Jacobus filed a $4 million libel lawsuit claiming he “destroyed her career” by calling her “a dummy” on Twitter.
In another case, scheduled for 29 November in Chicago, it is alleged Trump’s campaign violated consumer protection laws by sending unsolicited text messages to “Help Make America Great Again!”.

The president-elect opened Trump International Hotel in the final weeks of his election campaign One of Mr Trump’s most high-profile lawsuits is against two celebrity chefs. He is suing Geoffrey Zakarian and Jose Andres after they backed out of a restaurant deal – at his recently opened luxury Trump hotel in Washington DC – over the president-elect’s inflammatory statements about Mexican immigrants.
During the campaign, Mr Trump also threatened to sue all the women who have accused him of unwanted sexual advances, saying they were lying. He also said he would sue the media, such as the New York Times, for printing the accusations.
Analysis of lawsuits by USA Today, however, shows Mr Trump rarely follows through with his threatened lawsuits and almost always loses when he does.
Taxes, Trump Foundation

Before the election, New York state attorney-general Eric Schneiderman said his office was investigating whether the Trump Foundation charity is complying with state law. Washington Post reporting showed that Trump solicited charitable donations without the proper approvals, and found evidence that Trump used foundation money in ways that could benefit him personally, which is against the law.
The Internal Revenue Service, meanwhile, is auditing Mr Trump’s taxes, the president-elect has said. During the election campaign, the New York Times said it had received some of Mr Trump’s tax documents and found that Trump had been in a position to avoid federal income taxes for 18 years, as permitted by taking current tax law.
While most of the ongoing cases are civil lawsuits, they could increase pressure on Mr Trump to release records. In cases that go to trial, he would have to sit for a deposition, during which he would be questioned under oath.

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