Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash

Trump Is Not Elvis, The Courts Are Not Weaponized And Trump Is And Always Has Been Crooked

Phil Garber
8 min readFeb 6, 2024

--

While trump awaits a court ruling that could spell the end of his empire, he wastes everyone’s time as he incredulously claims that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley and that the courts have been weaponized to get him.

There is no such weaponization and trump looks nothing like Elvis. Forget all the MAGA talk about a strong leader who will put America First. Trump is as he always has been, a cruel, vindictive, dishonest, selfish hoarder of money and cheap fame.

In total, trump is facing 91 criminal charges in four different cases and a looming verdict in a civil case. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of the criminal charges, claiming they are politically motivated, and that the system has been “weaponized” by the Biden administration.

Trump’s sycophants and others would erase the man’s history of criminal and civil troubles. They would excuse his behavior as just business in an effort to whitewash and normalize his behavior. His behavior has been anything but normal unless he is compared with a Mafia don.

The cases that help define trump include:

Trump Organization civil fraud trial: A civil fraud case brought by the New York attorney general against trump, his adult sons and his company, the Trump Organization, is threatening to upend the former president’s business and brand. Judge Arthur Engoron has already ruled that trump has engaged in fraud and canceled business certificates for many of trump’s entities in New York.

Engoron is poised to issue another major ruling in the case, though the timing of it is unclear. The ruling will address several other claims, including conspiracy, issuing false financial statements, falsifying business records and insurance fraud.

Federal election subversion case: Special counsel Jack Smith has charged trump with four counts over his alleged efforts to undermine the results of the 2020 election.

Mar-a-Lago classified documents case: Smith has also charged trump with 42 counts in Florida for mishandling classified documents after he left the White House. Two others have been charged in the case, including trump’s personal aide.

Georgia election subversion case: Trump and 14 others are facing state charges in Fulton County, Ga., for their alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election results. Prosecutors have used the state’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to allege a sprawling criminal enterprise that involved states other than Georgia.

New York hush money case: Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal the reimbursement of hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The blitz and fog of lies and deception so common to trump are designed to mask the man’s shameful history. For decades before he was elected president, trump has been sued in thousands of cases in state and federal courts and has agreed to pay out millions in damages and settlements.

In 2015, trump’s lawyer Alan Garten said that lawsuits are “a natural part of doing business” in the United States. Legal entanglements may be “natural” for some but in trump’s situation he is the lawsuit king. A 2016 analysis by USA Today that found that trump had been involved in more legal cases than the combined number of cases involving his fellow real estate moguls, Edward DeBartolo, shopping-center developer and former San Francisco 49ers owner; Donald Bren, Irvine Company chairman and owner; Stephen Ross, Time Warner Center developer; Sam Zell, Chicago real-estate magnate; and Larry Silverstein, a New York developer famous for his involvement in the World Trade Center properties.

In the name of memory refreshing, the following are some of the more significant cases brought against trump before he was elected president.

The first big one came in 1973 when the Justice Department charged trump with violating the Fair Housing Act and failing to rent to African Americans at 39 of his buildings in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. After a lengthy legal battle, trump agreed to wide-ranging steps to offer rentals to persons of color.

Trump’s legendary, ruthless lawyer, Roy Cohn filed a $100 million countersuit against the Justice Department, which a judge dismissed, calling it a waste of “time and paper.” Trump settled the charges out of court in 1975. He was ordered to report a list of vacancies every two weeks to the New York Urban League. In 1978, the trump organization was back in court for violating the 1975 settlement although the outcome of the later court action was not available.

The racist shenanigans at his apartment buildings were the first of many lawsuits filed against trump.

In 1988, the Justice Department sued Trump for violating procedures related to public notifications when buying voting stock in a company related to his attempted takeovers of Holiday Corporation and Bally Manufacturing Corporation in 1986. Trump agreed to pay $750,000 to settle the civil penalties of the antitrust lawsuit.

In 2001, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought a financial-reporting case against Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc., alleging that the company had committed several “misleading statements in the company’s third-quarter 1999 earnings release.” Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. consented to the commission’s cease-and-desist order.

In 1985, New York City sued trump for allegedly using illegal tactics to force out tenants of 100 Central Park South because he intended to demolish the building. After a decade in court, trump settled a deal allowing the building to remain as condominiums.

In 2000, trump paid $250,000 to settle fines related to charges brought by New York State Lobbying Commission director David Grandeau. Trump was charged with circumventing state law by spending $150,000 lobbying against government approval of plans to construct an Indian-run casino in the Catskills, which would have diminished casino traffic to Trump’s casinos in Atlantic City.

In 2013, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman accused trump of defrauding more than 5,000 people of $40 million they paid to learn how to be real estate agents at Trump University, which operated from 2005 to 2011. Trump was ordered to stop using the “misleading and even illegal” term “University.” More than 2,000 students sought and received course refunds before the end of their paid seminars.

In a separate class action suit against Trump University in 2014, a federal judge ordered trump to pay one plaintiff and her lawyers, $798,774.24 in legal fees and costs. Trump was found to have defrauded students and was forced to pay $25 million in restitution.

In 1991, Trump Plaza was fined $200,000 by the N.J. Casino Control Commission for moving African American and female employees away from craps tables to accommodate high roller Robert LiButti, a mob figure and alleged John Gotti associate. LiButti was said to fly into fits of racist rage when he was on losing streaks.

In 1991, the Trump Castle casino paid a $30,000 fine for circumventing state regulations about casino financing when trump’s father bought $3.5 million in chips that he had no plans to use for gambling.

Outside of the U.S., in 2003, the city of Stuttgart, Germany, denied TD Trump Deutschland AG, a Trump Organization subsidiary, the permission to build a planned tower due to questions over its financing. Trump Deutschland sued the city of Stuttgart and lost.

In 2011, trump sued Scotland, claiming the country built the Aberdeen Bay Wind Farm not far from a new trump golf course where trump planned to build a hotel. Trump claimed that Scottish authorities assured him the wind farm would not be built. Trump lost his suit as the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom unanimously ruled against him in 2015.

In late 1990, a business analyst sued trump for $2 million for defamation. Trump settled out of court. The analyst was fired by his firm after he refused to retract his report that trump’s planned Trump Taj Mahal would fail. Trump Taj Mahal declared bankruptcy in November 1990 and the New York Stock Exchange ordered the analyst’s firm to compensate the analyst with $750,000. The terms of the trump settlement were not disclosed.

In 1993, Vera Coking sued trump and his demolition contractor for damage to her home during construction of the adjacent Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. In 1997, Coking dropped the suit against trump and settled with her contractor for $90,000. Trump wanted Coking’s property so he could build a parking garage for his adjacent Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Coking had refused to sell her home to trump and ultimately won a 1998 Supreme Court decision that prevented Atlantic City from using eminent domain to condemn her property. The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino closed in September 2014 for lack of business and was demolished on Feb. 17, 2021.

In 2004, the Trump Organization and the Bayrock Group planned to build a $200 million hotel and condo project in Fort Lauderdale Beach, Fla., to be called Trump International Hotel & Tower. In 2009 trump dissolved his licensing deal and demanded that his name be removed from the building. Soon after, the project defaulted on a $139 million loan in 2010. Investors later sued the developers, including trump, for fraud. Some of the 10 lawsuits were still not settled as of 2016.

After the 2008 housing-market collapse, Deutsche Bank attempted to collect $40 million that trump had personally guaranteed against the bank’s $640 million loan for Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago. Trump refused to repay Deutsche Bank and sued the bank for $3 billion for undermining the project and damage to his reputation. Deutsche Bank then filed suit to obtain the $40 million. The two parties settled in 2010 for undisclosed terms.

In 2009, trump was sued by investors who had made deposits for condos in the canceled Trump Ocean Resort Baja Mexico. The investors said trump misrepresented his role in the project and had disavowed any financial responsibility. Investors were informed that their investments would not be returned due to the cancellation of construction. In 2013, Trump settled the lawsuit with more than 100 prospective condo owners for an undisclosed amount.

In 2015, Trump sued Univision, demanding $500 million for breach of contract and defamation when the network dropped a planned broadcast of the Miss USA pageant. The network said that the decision was made because of trump’s “insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants.” Trump settled the lawsuit with Univision CEO Randy Falco out of court, for an undisclosed amount.

Trump hotel and casino businesses went bankrupt four times between 1991 and 2009 and had to re-negotiate debts with banks and owners of stock and bonds. Forbes reported in 2011 that the four bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City: Trump’s Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).

In 1991, Trump Taj Mahal was unable to service its debt and filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It was the only bankruptcy where trump’s personal financial resources were involved. On Nov. 2, 1992, the Trump Plaza Hotel filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and trump lost his 49 percent stake in the luxury hotel to Citibank and five other lenders.

Trump’s third corporate bankruptcy was on Oct. 21, 2004, involving Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts. Trump lost more than half of his 56 percent ownership and gave bondholders stock in exchange for surrendering part of the debt.

Trump’s fourth corporate bankruptcy came in 2009, when trump and his daughter, Ivanka, resigned from the board of Trump Entertainment Resorts. Four days later the company, which owed investors $1.74 billion against its $2.06 billion of assets, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. At the time, Trump Entertainment Resorts had three properties in Atlantic City: Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (closed in 2014), and Trump Marina (formerly Trump’s Castle, sold in 2011). Trump Entertainment Resorts filed again for bankruptcy in 2014 and was purchased by billionaire philanthropist Carl Icahn in 2016, who acquired Trump Taj Mahal in the deal.

--

--

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer