The legal baggage Donald Trump would bring to the White House

There are a number of pending lawsuits against the Republican nominee.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. CREDIT: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

After FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on Friday saying that the agency would be reviewing new emails to see if they are relevant to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while Secretary of State, Donald Trump has wasted no time in saying the announcement should keep her from office. He called her “corrupt,” claiming the corruption is “on a scale we have never seen before.”

He added, “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.”

But what Trump left out is that he himself is involved in a number of legal battles that are still ongoing, some of which have court dates scheduled for just after the election. While there are differences between these lawsuits and the ongoing federal investigation into Clinton — most of the suits against Trump are civil claims — Trump would bring plenty of legal baggage into the White House.

Trials over Trump University

A jury trial will begin on November 28 in California federal court for one of the three pending class-action lawsuits against him over Trump University. The civil fraud case going to trial alleges the university violated false advertising laws with its programs in Florida, New York, and California for claiming that Trump would handpick instructors and that they would have extensive real estate experience. Students also say they were deceived into maxing out their credit cards to pay for Trump University fees without getting any practical advice in return.

Another case is also pending in California federal court on behalf of all Trump University participants.

The third is in New York state court following a lawsuit filed by New York’s attorney general accusing Trump University of fraud for “repeatedly deceived students into thinking that they were attending a legally chartered ‘university.’” That lawsuit also claims students were misled about the instructors. The university was not in fact accredited, nor was Trump involved in selecting instructors. They instead were given scripts that told them to pretend they had met Trump.

These are civil cases, but there is still the potential for Trump to be held personally liable for fraud.

Sued for allegedly raping a minor

Trump’s lawyers will appear in New York district court on December 16 for a lawsuit claiming that he raped a child, referred to only as “Jane Doe,” when she was 13 in 1994.


Doe’s complaint alleges that Trump and Jeffrey Epstein (the latter a former banker and a sex offender) subjected her to “acts of rape, sexual misconduct, criminal sexual acts, sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault, battery,” and other forms of emotional and physical duress. The instances, it says, took place at a series of parties at Epstein’s residence in New York City. Doe says that during their last alleged encounter, Trump tied her to a bed and then violently raped her in a “savage sexual attack” while she pleaded with him to stop. She says that he told her if she ever spoke publicly about what happened, he would hurt her and her family.

Both Gawker and The Guardian have reported that the case, and a video purporting to outline the claims of what Trump did to Jane Doe, were shopped around to media outlets by a man calling himself Al Taylor. The lawsuit appears to be a refiling of a prior one brought by a woman identified as Katie Johnson. She previously claimed in California court that Trump and Epstein forced her to engage in sex acts with them and made her their “sex slave.” That case was dismissed in May.

Inquiry into Trump Foundation

After extensive reporting by the Washington Post’s David A. Fahrenthold, which uncovered a number of irregular and potentially fraudulent practices at Trump’s charity, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an inquiry into the Trump Foundation. He eventually issued a “notice of violation,” ordering it to cease fundraising activities in the state, which the foundation agreed to do.

Schneiderman’s office is still investigating as to whether the charity is in compliance with state laws, and he could eventually force Trump to return money that he’s already raised for the foundation.

Employees who say they were mistreated

A former employee of the Trump-owned Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey has sued the company for allegedly failing to stop the harassment and discrimination he says he experienced because he is gay. The case is currently in court-mandated mediation.


In the complaint, plaintiff Eleazar Andres describes coworkers routinely calling him slurs and throwing rocks and golf balls at him — one hit him in the head so hard that he went to the hospital. He alleges that not only did he make several formal complaints to his supervisor, one actually witnessed several of these incidents. Yet he claims the supervisor didn’t take any action, and instead that he was fired for making complaints.

A different lawsuit brought by a woman who worked for the Trump National Golf Club in Florida as a supervisor for the Trump Kids Club daycare service is still ongoing. In that case, Erin Breen alleges that she suffered “persistent, unwelcome sexual advances” from a manager and told both her supervisor and human resources. Yet she claims she was fired two weeks later.

And yet another is still open: It was brought by a caterer at the Trump SoHo hotel claiming that the hotel violated labor laws by denying employees the tips they were due when it pocketed a mandatory service fee added to bills.

There are other cases that could continue to dog Trump if he were to enter the White House. According to a tally by USA TODAY, he was involved in at least 75 open lawsuits as of October 25. Some are claims he has brought against others, while many are claims against him. Either way, experts agree it is an unprecedented number of legal concerns for anyone so close to the presidency.