USA Today reports that GOP nominee Donald Trump has been involved in a whopping 3,500 lawsuits – an unprecedented embarrassment for a presidential nominee. But when you think about the massive amount of business deals the real estate mogul has conducted during his lifetime, it’s really not that surprising.
Donald Trump is a fighter. As we have seen throughout his presidential campaign, the billionaire doesn’t back down when controversy rears its ugly head. In the business world, this attitude often manifests as legal skirmishes.
This high number of lawsuits is just “the cost of doing business,” says Trump Organization general counsel Alan Garten. “I think we have far less litigation (than other) companies of our size.” USA Today’s report contains 30 years of data, including both federal and state court cases, and reveals skirmishes ranging from million-dollar real estate suits to arguments with casino patrons.
Categorizing the lawsuits shows Trump (or one of his companies) as plaintiff in 1,900 cases and Trump as defendant in 1,450 cases. The remaining 150 are classified as third party, bankruptcy, or other. Trump agreed to settle in at least 100 cases. Seventy cases have been filed since Trump declared his bid for the presidency, and at least 50 are still open.
The Dems will be quick to point out that no prospective president has ever had anything near 3,500 legal battles – but the counterargument here is that no president has ever been a billionaire businessman and real estate developer before taking office. What this report tells me is that Trump’s enemies are grasping at straws as the antiestablishment candidate moves ever closer to claiming the official nomination at the RNC in Ohio, which takes place in seven short weeks.
Trump’s legal history provides clues as to the leadership style he would employ as president. He responds to disputes with overwhelming force, he doesn’t hesitate to deploy his forces (whether they be monetary or military) against enemies, and he refuses to pay up when he feels cheated.
Some worry that his legal habits will jeopardize his ability to lead America’s powerful government – a job that involves managing a $4 trillion budget, supervising 1.8 million civilian federal employees, and commanding the most powerful military in the world.
“He’s operating as his own boss and a CEO-on-steroids mentality, where you snap a finger and get things done,” warns presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. “But a lot of good governance is on learning how to build proper coalitions and how to have patience with the glacial pace of government and you’re forced to abide by laws at all times.”
To compare, rival (presumptive) nominee Hillary Clinton is enmeshed in an FBI investigation involving her use of a personal email server that threatens to land her in jail before she can seize the White House. During her political lifetime, she has been named in more than 900 lawsuits – more than a third of which were filed by political activists, federal prisoners, or other citizens seeking redress from the feds by suing a high-ranking official.
Overall, Trump’s courtroom entanglements show that he fiercely protects his brand – a brand that could soon be The United State of America. “Our philosophy is that we are a company of principle,” says Garten. “When we believe we are right, we are going to pursue the matter to the end. If that requires that we go to trial and present evidence to a jury, we are prepared to do so. We are not going to cave to pressure.”