“Destruction Of Evidence”: Trump Org. Deleted Emails Sought In Lawsuit

Trump University and Trump Institute fraudster Donald Trump was accused of “destroying data and evidence” that pertained to a 2006 lawsuit.

It turns out that the Trump Organization “destroyed old computers and emails” on a “routine” basis, with “no records from 1996 to 2001,” according to a USA Today report on the lawsuit and related allegations that Trump destroyed evidence.

Unintentional or not, this episode fits into a larger pattern of Donald Trump’s willingness to muddle the truth and withhold information that voters have a right to know.

Every major party nominee since 1976 has released his or her tax returns — until now. Donald Trump, for some reason, continues to refuse. As the Washington Post’s Editorial Board put it this week, Trump’s unprecedented lack of openness is “evading transparency and eroding one of the country’s essential democratic norms.”

Voters deserve to know what kind of person they’re electing to the White House, and Donald Trump’s record of running phony get-rich-quick scams, destroying email evidence, and concealing his tax returns does not communicate honesty and transparency.

Background:

Trump Destruction Of Email Evidence

In a 2006 Trump lawsuit against his former employee Richard Fields, Trump Organization was accused of “regularly” destroying potentially crucial email evidence both before and after the case began.

After the presiding Judge ordered Trump Organization to hand over email records from between 1996 – 2001, Trump’s counsel claimed “there are noemails.” Trump Organization claimed they did not use high-speed internet until 2001 and regularly deleted emails prior to then – a claim the Judge found “incredulous” considering Trump launched his own high-speed internet provider in 1998.

The defendants sought sanctions against Trump organization for “destruction of evidence” and alleged that Trump Organization replaced a key executives’ computer (without saving any old emails) after the case was filed.

After A Judge Ordered Trump To Hand Over Emails, TrumpOrganization Claimed It Never Stored Them, Had Deleted Them Years Prior

MSNBC HEADLINE: “Republicans’ 2016 Email Advantage Starts To Evaporate.” [MSNBC, 6/14/16]

New York Magazine HEADLINE: “Literally The Only Issue Where DonaldTrump Had An Advantage Over Hillary Clinton Is Now Gone.” [New York Magazine, 6/13/16]

2006: After A Judge Ordered Trump To Hand Over Several Years OfEmails, Trump Organization Reported That It Had Destroyed Them. According to USA Today, “In 2006, when a judge ordered DonaldTrump’s casino operation to hand over several years’ worth of emails, the answer surprised him: The Trump Organization routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001. The defendants in a case that Trump brought said this amounted to destruction of evidence, a charge never resolved.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

The Missing Emails Served As Potentially Crucial Evidence In A TrumpLawsuit Against Former Trump Employee Richard Fields. According to USA Today, “The Trump campaign and his lawyers have not responded to requests for comment on this story. The preservation of email was a central point of contention in the suit filed in 2004 by Trump’s publicly traded casino company, called Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts, against a former employee, Richard Fields. The gist of the Trump company’s suit in a Broward County, Fla., court was that while he was working with Trump, Fields had developed the idea of working with the Seminole Tribe in Florida to build a casino, then told Trumpthe idea wasn’t going to fly. Fields then left Trump’s employ at the end of the 1990s and struck the same deal with other partners. Trump sued Fields and the companies he had ended up working with on a Seminole casino, arguing thatTrump Hotels should be entitled to all profits the casinos produced, which were expected at the time to be more than $1 billion over 10 years.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

Trump’s Team Claimed The Emails Had Been Deleted Years Prior To The Case

Trump’s Attorney Stated In Court “My Understanding From Speaking To My Client Is That There Are No Emails.” According to USA Today, “In a March 2006 hearing, the Trump company’s lawyer, Robert Borrello, said Trumpdidn’t use email himself and his company didn’t retain emails. ‘My understanding from speaking to my client is that there are no emails,’ Borrello said, according to a transcript obtained by USA TODAY. ‘They don’t keepemails from the time period from ‘96 until within the last couple of years, when the organization instituted retention procedures for keeping emailselectronically.’” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

Trump’s Team Claimed Its Executives Used Dial-Up Connections And Regularly Just Wiped Their Computers Prior To 2001

Several Trump Executives Instead Used Dial-Up Connections With Various Email Providers—AOL, Compuserve, Etc. According to USA Today, “In 1996, some Trump executives set up email accounts ‘using dial-up connections with various email providers such as AOL, Compuserve,’ said Nikos Vroulis, the director of networks and systems for Trump’s casino operations in a March 2006 affidavit. ‘In the late 1990s, (1998-99 approximately), we switched dial-up accounts to different providers. In 2001 we acquired a server … and gradually moved employees away from using their dial-ups.’ Vroulis added that ‘it was not until the summer of 2003 that we began to journal and save emails on the server.’” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

General Counsel Of Trump’s Casino, Bob Pickus: “Every Year Everything Was Just Wiped Out And Deleted From Pretty Much Everybody’s Computers.”  According to USA Today, “Before that, Trump’s casino company destroyed old computers and emails that might have been stored on them. ‘There was no uniform procedure for migration of data from an obsolete work station to a replacement work station,’ Vroulis said. Trumps’s companies had no document retention policy, witnesses testified. ‘Every year everything was just wiped out and deleted from pretty much everybody’s computers,’ said Bob Pickus, general counsel of the casino unit at the time, according to court records.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

A Trump IT Director Claimed Trump Tower Did Not Use High-Speed Internet Email Services Until 2001, Even Though Trump Personally Launched A High-Speed Provider In 1998

A Trump IT Director Testified That Trump Tower Relied On Dial-Up Email Services Until 2001, Even Though Trump Had Launched A High-Speed Internet Provider In 1998 And Had Promised To Wire His Whole Building With It. According to USA Today, “At that time, a Trump IT director testified that until 2001, executives in Trump Tower relied on personal email accounts using dial-up Internet services, despite the fact that Trump had launched a high-speed Internet provider in 1998 and announced he would wire his whole building with it. Another said Trump had no routine process for preservingemails before 2005.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

Trump Launched A Tech Venture In 1998—Trump New Media—Designed To Provide Trump Tower With High Speed Internet And On-Demand Service. Yet, His Company Was Apparently Not Using It. According to USA Today, “Trump certainly had access to high-tech communications. In 1998, he created a tech venture called Trump New Media, and its first project was ‘to wire his luxury high-rise Trump Tower for blazing-fast Internet access and video-on-demand service,’ the New York Daily News reported. A publication called Network World reported in October 1998 on the efforts of Trump’s Louisiana-based Internet service provider to provide ‘bursting’ capability for ‘business residents at Trump Towers in New York’ to be able to ‘grab extra bandwidth from time to time.’ The article quoted Trump New Media executive Harry Geruldsen as saying the company planned to offer these services to businesses nationwide. But Trump’s own company was apparently not using it.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

The Defendants Alleged That The Erasure Of Emails Was “Destruction Of Evidence”

Trump’s Opponents In The Case, The Defendants, Alleged That The Erasure Of The Emails Amounted To A “Destruction Of Evidence.”  According to USA Today, “In 2006, when a judge ordered Donald Trump’s casino operation to hand over several years’ worth of emails, the answer surprised him: The Trump Organization routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001. The defendants in a case that Trump brought said this amounted to destruction of evidence, a charge never resolved.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

The Defendants Alleged That Trump’s Company Destroyed Evidence Both Before And After The Case Began

The Defendants Alleged In Court Documents Trump’s Company “Has Been Regularly Destroying Data And Evidence Located On Its Computer, Both Before And After This Case Was Filed.” According to USA Today, “As the Trump Hotels court case dragged on, the defendants asked the judge to enforce sanctions against Trump for destroying evidence. Trump’s company failed to preserve emails and ‘has been regularly destroying data and evidence located on its computer, both before and after this case was filed,’ the companies charged in a May 2007 motion.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

The Defendants Noted In Court Documents That One Trump Executive’s Computer Was Replaced After The Case Began. According to USA Today, “One Trump executive had his computer replaced in 2005, after Trump filed his complaint against Fields and the other casino developers, and ‘there wereemails on the hard drive of his old computers that were not migrated to his new computer or otherwise preserved,’ the defendants argued.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

The Defendants Sought Sanctions

The Defendants In The Case Asked The Judge To Enforce Sanctions Against Trump For Destroying Evidence. According to USA Today, “As theTrump Hotels court case dragged on, the defendants asked the judge to enforce sanctions against Trump for destroying evidence. Trump’s company failed to preserve emails and ‘has been regularly destroying data and evidence located on its computer, both before and after this case was filed,’ the companies charged in a May 2007 motion. One Trump executive had his computer replaced in 2005, after Trump filed his complaint against Fields and the other casino developers, and ‘there were emails on the hard drive of his old computers that were not migrated to his new computer or otherwise preserved,’ the defendants argued. But the case was settled before the judge ruled on whether Trump’s company had destroyed evidence.” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

The Judge Did Not Believe Trump’s Excuse

The Judge In The Case, Jeffrey Streitfield Stated In Court Transcripts ThatTrump’s Claim That He Did Not Keep Emails “Doesn’t Make Any Sense To Me.” According to USA Today, “Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld was stunned. ‘He has a house up in Palm Beach County listed for $125 million, but he doesn’t keepemails. That’s a tough one,’ he said, according to transcripts obtained by USA TODAY. ‘If somebody starts to put forth as a fact something that doesn’t make any sense to me and causes me to have a concern about their credibility in the discovery process, that’s not a good direction to go, and I am really having a hard time with this.’” [USA Today, 6/13/16]

Now Retired Judge Streitfield, 2016: “I Was A Bit Incredulous That AnOrganization Of That Significance Doesn’t Do Email.”  According to USA Today, “In a March 2006 hearing, the Trump company’s lawyer, Robert Borrello, said Trump didn’t use email himself and his company didn’t retain emails. ‘My understanding from speaking to my client is that there are no emails,’ Borrello said, according to a transcript obtained by USA TODAY. ‘They don’t keepemails from the time period from ‘96 until within the last couple of years, when the organization instituted retention procedures for keeping emailselectronically.’ Streitfeld, who has since retired, told USA TODAY he remembers the case. ‘I was a bit incredulous that an organization of that significance doesn’t do email,’ Streitfeld said. ‘I had heard a number of things in 24 years on the bench, but that stuck in my mind.’” [USA Today, 6/13/16]