What’s Donald Trump Trying To Hide?


Donald Trump’s new legal motion seeks to expand a “protective order” in the lawsuits by prohibiting any public release of the videos and by requiring that any portions filed with the court be placed under seal. | AP Photo
NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–June 16, 2016.  One year ago today, Donald Trump launched his campaign for president with a speech that attacked Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists. Shortly thereafter, two celebrity chefs cancelled their plans to open restaurants in a new Trump property in Washington, D.C., as a direct result of Trump’s divisive attacks. Yesterday there was a hearing about one of the two lawsuits Trump filed against those chefs, and today, on the anniversary of his campaign launch, Trump is being deposed in D.C. for the other. What will Trump say in today’s deposition? Wecanonlyguess. But don’t expect Trump to allow today’s deposition to become public any time soon. He’s currently fighting to keep private videos of his depositions in lawsuits against the scam that is Trump University. Apparently, even a man who stood at the bottom of an escalator shouting divisive attacks against immigrant communities has some words he’d rather keep private.

Politico: Trump steps up fight to keep Trump University deposition videos secret

Lawyers for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump are intensifying their drive to make sure the public doesn’t see videos of Trump’s recent testimony in connection with class-action fraud lawsuits over his Trump University real estate seminar program.

In a court filing late Wednesday night, Trump’s attorneys argued explicitly for the first time that the deposition videos should be kept under wraps because they would become weapons in the ongoing presidential contest.

“Undoubtedly, these videos…will be used by the media and others in connection with the presidential campaign,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in a motion filed with U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego.

“‘[V]ideotapes are subject to a higher degree of potential abuse than transcripts. They can be cut and spliced and used as “soundbites” on the evening news or sports shows….’ And unlike in other cases where it was unclear that ‘out of context snippets’ would be broadcast because the ‘media frenzy’ around the case had died down…the ‘media frenzy’ surrounding this case is certain to continue through the election,” Trump’s legal team added, quoting cases from federal trial courts in Indiana and New York.

While Trump is currently lagging well behind presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the polls, Trump’s lawyers argued that his predicament is similar to those of sitting presidents who have been shown deference by the courts when the question arose of releasing videos of their testimony.

“The need to prevent such ‘sensationalism’ is particularly acute here because of Mr. Trump’s unique circumstances in running for President of the United States,” wrote Trump attorneys Daniel Petrocelli and David Kirman of law firm O’Melveny & Myers and in-house Trump lawyer Jill Martin. They cited a federal appeals court ruling rejecting a media bid for access to videos of President Bill Clinton’s testimony played in court during a criminal case related to the Whitewater affair.

“[T]here is a strong judicial tradition of proscribing public access to recordings of testimony given by a sitting President,” the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in that 1996 case. Trump’s team also cited court decisions not to release videotaped depositions of Bill Clinton in the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by Paula Jones and of President Ronald Reagan in the criminal prosecution of former National Security Adviser John Poindexter.

“These same cautions and concerns apply with full force here to a presidential candidate whose every move is being covered by the media. Mr. Trump may be a sitting President by the time [one of the Trump University’s suits] goes to trial, in which case these principles apply with even greater force,” the Trump attorneys wrote.

Trump’s new legal motion seeks to expand a “protective order” in the lawsuits by prohibiting any public release of the videos and by requiring that any portions filed with the court be placed under seal. In addition to the claims of potential use of the videos in the presidential campaign, Trump’s lawyers argued to Curiel that release of the videos could hamper eventual trials in the cases.

Curiel has set a trial in one of the cases for Nov. 28. Trial in the other case is expected to follow sometime thereafter.

Trump’s latest move comes after a coalition of news organizations asked to intervene in the litigation last week, urging that “confidential” designations be dropped from portions of the transcripts of depositions Trump gave in New York in December and in Las Vegas in January. Removing the “confidential” label would allow those parts of the depositions to be filed publicly in court and could permit release of the full transcripts by those pressing the lawsuits.

The media motion also argued that there was a significant public interest in the videos of Trump’s testimony because of his presidential campaign and interest in claims of fraud in the Trump University program.

In a court filing Monday, the Trump attorneys complained that an attempt by plaintiffs’ lawyers to file 48 video clips from the depositions was “an obvious attempt to prejudice Mr. Trump.” However, in that submission, Trump’s camp did not discuss the potential for the videos to be drawn into the presidential race.

Trump’s attorneys asked that the new motion be heard on June 30, when Curiel has already scheduled a hearing on the media request.