Newsweek has found that companies owned by Donald Trump have defied court orders and destroyed documents sought in official proceedings for decades.
In a new article, journalist Kurt Eichenwald describes how he reviewed "thousands of pages" of court documents — including filings, judicial orders and affidavits — to expose the tactics, which withheld important documents from court cases involving Trump.
Newsweek is owned by IBT Media, which runs a host of other titles including International Business Times UK.
An early example of Trump destroying documents sought by a court dates from October 1973. The Justice Department filed a civil rights case against Trump's real estate company on charges that it didn't rent to African-Americans.
After ignoring requests for documents sought by government prosecutors, and a series of stalling tactics, Trump gave a deposition. He told the court that his company had been shredding their corporate records for the past six months to "save space" and had no document-retention program. Normally companies facing litigation put a freeze on the destruction of documents.
They hadn't looked at any of the files they were shredding to see if they matched the ones being sought by prosecutors.
The article explores other questionable conduct with documents:
- In 2011, Trump and his company said they had no insurance to cover their liability in a Fort Lauderdale case where people lost money after Trump licensed his name to an apartment project.
- Two years later one of Trump's lawyers said Trump and his company had been insured all along for up to $5m, but the policy had just expired.
- In 2005 Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts sued Trump's former business partners over a deal on two American Indian casinos in Florida saying he had been swindled.
- When the defence lawyers sought emails and computer files supporting his claim, Trump's lawyers said the company didn't have them because there was no company email server around the time the deal was brokered before 2001.
- During a deposition nine months later a Trump executive admitted that an IBM Domino server had been installed at the company in 1999. The emails about the deal had been deleted.
Trump has consistently attacked Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election campaign for her mishandling of emails while Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.
Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing in July following an FBI investigation into her use of a private email server, but the FBI's Director James Comey said that she had acted irresponsibly, since some classified data had been transmitted through a non-government connection. Clinton also deleted as many as 32,000 emails over those years which she says were not work related.
Trump has cast these deleted emails as containing more sensitive data that she was willing to admit, leading to chants of "lock her up" at his rallies. The emails were deleted over a period of time, rather than all at once.
Now Comey has said he has potentially found more emails on the computer of the vice chair of Clinton's campaign.