Trump’s Arguments against Release of His Video Deposition May be Undercut by His Public Statements

Friday, June 24, 2016
(photo: Thos Robinson, Getty Images)

By Matthew Renda, Courthouse News Service


SAN DIEGO (CN) - Trump University's former students mocked the Republican candidate's sudden aversion to video images contained in his deposition, in a court filng in San Diego on Thursday, saying "Ignorance is his greatest ally."


Attorney Jason Forge filed a motion in opposition to Trump's attempt to suppress videotaped depositions he gave in December last year and January this year. In the 23-page motion filed in Federal Court on Wednesday, Forge accuses Trump of bombastic bullying and using the platform of a presidential race to try to undermine the fair procedure of the trial.


"When Donald J. Trump proclaimed that, 'I love the poorly educated,' what he really meant was, 'I love the poorly informed,'" Forge wrote in the motion. "Ignorance is his greatest ally, and it is the linchpin of his unprecedented national campaign to condemn the integrity of these proceedings and cast himself as the victim of an 'unfair' case and process."


The Trump University case is actually two class actions, Cohen v. Trump (pdf) and Low v. Trump (pdf), both of which hinge on similar claims of fraud and deceit.


In both instances, plaintiffs claim they were misled by the word university, as Trump University was really a dressed-up three-day business seminar held in hotel conference rooms.


Plaintiffs claim they were misled by Trump's insistence that he was personally involved in selecting instructors, and say that his so-called mentorship program, which cost $35,000, did not deliver what he promised.


Trump was deposed in December in New York and in January in Las Vegas. Forge says those videotaped depositions should be included in the court record, at is important for the judge to see Trump's body language, facial expressions, the exhibits referred to in the transcripts and his off-the-cuff remarks that are not in the transcripts.


Trump and his attorneys say the videotaped depositions are duplicative of the transcripts, and that release of the videotapes would lead to widespread media dissemination that could taint the jury pool.


The Washington Post, The New York Times and other news organizations have intervened in the case, saying the videotaped depositions should be released because Trump is a public figure, the case has become an issue in the presidential race, and the law places the burden on Trump to prove why the records should not be disclosed, a burden he has not met.


In filing the latest motion Wednesday, Forge took the assertions up a notch.


"Trump is concerned about a poisoned jury pool. After dedicating months to poisoning that pool with dozens of nationally publicized speeches denigrating the claims against him and championing his hollow defense, he should be concerned. He knows the best cure for a snake bite comes from the snake's own venom. After months of spewing venom into the jury pool, Trump is trying to suppress the cure — his own admissions.


"And so, the man who buys nonstop publicity with bombast is suddenly camera shy," Forge wrote. "Not when it came to mocking this case. The class representatives. Other student victims. POWs. The disabled. Women. Republicans. Democrats. The Pope."


Forge calls Trump's antics "grade-school bickering, prep-school bullying or Ivey-League belittling.


"None of this embarrassed Trump, but what does is the truth about what he did to the thousands of people who made the mistake of believing him. That is how bad a scam Trump University was, and why Trump so badly wants to keep the jury pool poisoned."


The plaintiffs list more than two-dozen occasions during the presidential campaign in which Trump championed his cause in the Trump University case, while making derogatory comments about the opposing side — most controversially, by claiming that the presiding federal judge, Gonzalo Curiel, could be fair because he is "Mexican."


Curiel, who was born in Indiana, is of Mexican heritage.


While Trump's attorneys argue that the videotaped depositions should be suppressed because they could to taint the jury pool, Forge says it's Trump who has repeatedly used mass media to influence potential jury members.


Citing a previous filing by the news organizations this week, Forge tells the court that parties attempting to conceal records carry a much heavier burden than those who want them in the public record.


"Trump does not even acknowledge the 48 specific video excerpts [lead plaintiff Art] Cohen has offered, let alone attempt to establish a compelling reason why the public must be denied access to any portion of them, let alone every second of them," Forge wrote.


The parties are slated to argue the case in front of Curiel on July 13 in San Diego.


The latest twists in the case come as an Associated Press review of hundreds of lawsuits involving Trump and his businesses revealed that seeking a judge's ouster -- as he has done in the current case -- is one of a handful of aggressive legal maneuvers he has employed over the years.


In one example cited by the AP, lawyers for Trump said a New York state judge was biased in 2011 after a series of rulings that weren't in Trump's favor. That judge refused to step down, saying he couldn't allow the appearance of judge-shopping.


To Learn More:

Florida Attorney General Abandoned Trump Fraud Lawsuit after Soliciting and Receiving Trump Donation (by Jeff Horwitz, Gary Fineout and Michael Biesecker, Associated Press)

Trump May be Called as Witness by Bergdahl Legal Team in Court Martial Trial (Reuters)

Lawsuit against Trump “University” Reinstated by Appeals Court (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)


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