Sasha Borissenko: All the sexual assault lawsuits waiting for Trump

OPINION:

While litigation might have a great financial and cognitive cost to many, the same can’t be said for Donald Trump, where prior to his presidency he had been involved in more than 3500 legal cases according to USA Today – an unprecedented number of cases for any person let alone a presidential hopeful.

More recently, if and once his presidential immunity lapses, Trump may be bearing the brunt of legal action himself.

There are the decades-worth of sexual misconduct allegations, which Trump has vehemently denied. Writer E Jean Carroll, who described her experience – alleging Trump to have raped her in a dressing room in Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s – filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump in 2019. She argued Trump defamed her by saying he could not have sexually assaulted Carroll because she was not his “type”.

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, alleged Trump sexually assaulted her during a meeting at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2007. The meeting was to discuss job opportunities, which seems eerily similar to many of the cases against Harvey Weinstein. After Trump denied the claims, Zervos, like Carroll, has brought forth a defamation case seeking damages.

Although these examples have not been litigated, it is important to take note of the context surrounding Trump and sexual misconduct. Rachel Crooks alleged Trump kissed her on the mouth when she introduced herself in 2005. Jessica Leeds alleged Trump groped her in the 1980s while she was sitting next to him during a flight. Writer Mindy McGullivray alleged Trump grabbed her at a resort. Natasha Stoynoff alleged Trump pushed her against a wall while she was also at a resort in the early 1990s. The alleged incident occurred during a break after Stoynoff was interviewing Trump and his pregnant wife.

Former Miss Washington Cassandra Searles alleged Trump repeatedly grabbed her and invited her to his hotel room. In a picture posted on social media she said: “Do y’all remember that one time we had to do our onstage introductions, but this one guy treated us like cattle and made us do it again because we didn’t look him in the eyes? Do you also remember when he then proceeded to have us lined up so he could get a closer look at his property?” As you can see, there are too many cases for just one column.

There is the hush-money saga, which involved Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal who said they had sexual relationships with Trump and received money for their silence leading up to the 2016 election. After they spoke out in 2018, criminal investigations kicked off, which led to campaign-finance violations prosecutions and “fixer” Michael Cohen being sentenced to three years in prison. Now, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance is examining whether the Trump Organisation falsified business records related to the payoffs.

As part of the investigation, Vance issued a subpoena requesting eight years of Trump’s tax returns. Trump is expected to appeal against the subpoena in the Supreme Court.

On top of what could amount to bank and insurance fraud allegations, New York Attorney General Letitia James has been leading a civil investigation into real estate fraud. It dates back to Cohen who told Congress in 2019 that Trump inflated the value of his assets to secure loans to reduce his taxes.

On the issue of profit, there is the US Constitution, which requires federal officials to seek consent of Congress before accepting benefits from foreign states. There are three civil lawsuits against Trump for failing to secure consent – one is around Trump hosting international officials at the Trump International Hotel, for example.

And then there’s the case involving Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, who filed a suit against him and his siblings relating to alleged misappropriation of inheritance. The details were described in her memoir, titled Too Much and Never Enough.

Where does that leave us? The US Constitution explains how a President can be removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanours by Congress by using the impeachment process. But as we have seen in the past, it’s a numbers process.

In the meantime, Trump is constitutionally immune but, while he is in office, he may be so audacious as to grant himself a pardon for the alleged crimes by way of Article II of the US Constitution. He has exercised his power of clemency for more than 20 people, for example.

Of the list, Jack Johnson, a famed boxer, was pardoned following a conviction of an all-white jury in 1913 for travelling with his white girlfriend; Chalmer Lee Williams was pardoned following a robbery conviction; and Susan B Anthony was posthumously pardoned after being convicted for famously casting a ballot in the 1872 presidential election.

Suppose Trump decides to pardon himself, his major hurdle is that, in order to be granted a pardon, one would have to acknowledge the wrongdoing.

Flying pigs comes to mind.

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