The 2016 elections are considered by many as the strangest and most unprecedented Presidential cycle yet. Almost every strange and unprecedented thing that has happened thus far is associated with the Republican candidate Donald Trump. Never before has a candidate talked about the size of his “whatever” during debate, as we all saw, and as Time Magazine reported.
Never before has a candidate thrown his hat into the ring for the Oval Office while having open racketeering and fraud cases on the docket. And never before have the words “impeachable offenses” been uttered about a candidate before the election is even over. But such is the case for America now, and it’s all because of Donald Trump.
KUTV reports that a group of researchers at the University of Utah, led by law professor Christopher Peterson, have studied this phenomenon, making a strong case in their analysis that Donald Trump’s current open cases of fraud and racketeering could get him impeached if he becomes President.
And yes, we checked, he has at least three open class action cases of racketeering and fraud, divided between California and New York, and multiple open cases in other states such as Florida, Idaho, and Texas. That means, going into the election, he has at least five open cases that we know of in court. One will go to trial in November.
He also has a RICO case open and active in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. RICO is the United States Department of Justice legislation known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Trump recently tried to have one of his cases continued, reports the Political Voice, but on September 15, 2016, his motion to delay was denied. For this case, a hearing for jury instructions will occur on November 10 of this year and trial is set for November 28 of this year.
Which means Donald Trump could in effect win the election and then be required to appear at a hearing for jury instruction on a class action fraud case, two days later, and at trial 20 days later. This has never happened in America. This is a case involving Trump University.
Chris Peterson’s legal analysis in his study, called “Trump University and Presidential Impeachment,” published September 20 of this year, says the actions related to this case, and the two others like it are, in effect, impeachable offenses. To be impeached over these offenses would be a rare event, but not unprecedented, says Peterson.
KUTV reports that Christopher Peterson, says, he has seen evidence that could lead officials in many states to charge Donald Trump with felony fraud and racketeering.
It’s not evidence that Peterson has come up with on his own, it comes right from the legal dockets. What Donald Trump isn’t telling many people right now is that he has three open cases of fraud and racketeering on federal court dockets right now. One is in New York, and two are in the Southern District Courts of California.
In his study, “Trump University and Presidential Impeachment,” Christopher Peterson says that the current fraud and racketeering cases that are open on the court dockets right now, claim that Trump University collected more than $40 million from people hoping to learn about Donald Trump’s real estate prowess. Those consumers did not get what they paid for, and there are three class action civil cases currently open that are seeking damages.
Peterson’s study examines whether or not these civil cases, could rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the United States Constitution if Donald Trump becomes President.
He says it’s rare, but it could happen. His entire study focuses on the legalities. The legal question is, if it is proven in civil court that Donald Trump engaged in racketeering and fraud, could that rise to the level of an impeachable offense under the United States Constitution?
The answer is that presidents, and other politicians holding office, have been impeached for less. In his study, Peterson says the following.
“In the United States, it is illegal to use false statements to convince consumers to purchase their services. The evidence indicates that Trump University used a systemic pattern of fraudulent representations to trick thousands of families into investing in a program that can be argued was a sham. Fraud and racketeering are serious crimes that legally rise to the level of impeachable acts.”
Peterson furthers his study, saying Congress doesn’t necessarily need a felony conviction on record to impeach someone, and that actions taken before office can be used against someone or labeled an impeachable offense. He specifically says in his study that the way consumers were taken advantage of, and the amounts of money that were lost, rise to the level of impeachable offenses.
Even worse, the Trump Foundation, an organization that is supposed to be used for charity donations, has gotten tied up in the Trump University mess as we previously reported. It is illegal for charity and politics to combine when money is changing hands, but this is what happened with Donald Trump.
One minute Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi was considering joining the class action lawsuit, then she received $25,000 from Trump, through the Trump Foundation which is only legally allowed to give money to charity. Then she dropped all consideration of joining the class action suit.
The same thing happened in Texas with then-Attorney General Abbott. Abbott received money from Trump, and then all of a sudden decided not to be part of the lawsuit, reports the Toronto Sun. Former Attorney General Abbott is now the Governor of Texas, so that worked out pretty well for him.
In the clip here, Donald Trump bragged at his rallies earlier this year, “When I want something I get it. When I call they kiss my [bleep]. It’s true. They kiss. My. [bleep].”
Trump called both Florida and Texas, they left the lawsuits, and he got their endorsements. But the lawsuits are ongoing with or without Florida and Texas, and jury instructions for one of them will occur two days after we find out who the next President of the United States will be.
Peterson says, how Trump got the consumers for Trump University is going to be a very big problem for him in court. The Washington Post has been to court over this to have the 133-page “playbook” of Trump University marketers released to the public.
In a separate report, KUTV called them “aggressive sales tactics.” The playbook takes Trump employees step by step through the process of a sale, meeting the prospect, handling their objections, and then closing the deal.
The playbook warns staff to guide buyers through “roller coaster of emotions” after they have shown an interest in Trump University. The staff is taught to start with small-talk, establish rapport, and not to allow the buyer to “take control of the conversation.”
The staff is told to be “very aggressive” and to “push them out of their comfort zones.” And, if someone objects to the price, “remind them that Trump is the BEST.” Of course, there will be a time when a consumer says I don’t have the money. Trump’s playbook has a suggestion for that: Dip into your savings, let’s call that “seed capital.”
The playbook says, “Money is never a reason for not enrolling in Trump University; if they really believe in you and your product, they will find the money.” Donald Trump initially sought to have these documents sealed from the public and media, but U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel ruled otherwise. KUTV reports that when he did, Donald Trump said, “The judge who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine.”
Using other people’s money to succeed is something that Donald Trump likes to do, at personal cost to others, are the allegations in the multi-million dollar lawsuits against him. He calls it, “OPM” for, “Other People’s Money.”
This is the claim of the class action fraud and racketeering lawsuits, that Donald Trump used other people’s money to succeed. Using “OPM” is one of Donald’s plan if he gets into office.
This is a remarkable statement. No one who thinks like this should be running for President. What is he talking about? He's insane. pic.twitter.com/RGqrTQMXPS— Elliott Lusztig (@ezlusztig) September 21, 2016
But when victims are created, this strategy is against the law, it’s called racketeering or fraud. Cornell Law says that the legal definition of racketeering when it comes to money changing hands is offering a product or service, the “racket,” to solve a problem or service that wouldn’t exist if the business didn’t offer the service to begin with. Acts under the RICO act include up to 35 different acts that could be considered racketeering. A conviction of racketeering could lead to a jail term of up to 20 years.
Christopher Peterson of the University of Utah says that using the guidelines for impeachment, as defined in the U.S. Constitution Article 2 Section 4, the actions alleged in these lawsuits, if proven true, could meet the bar for impeachment.
Article 2 Section 4 of the Constitution says, “The President, Vice President, and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors….”
Peterson says fraud and racketeering constitute impeachable offenses under the Constitution’s “High Crimes or Misdemeanors” definition. He also says that fraud in the state of New York, for example, is defined by an individual who engages in a scheme that constitutes a “systematic ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud or obtain property from ten or more persons.”
But Donald Trump is not involved in a criminal trial for racketeering at this time. He is, however, involved in multiple open cases of civil suits, that involve racketeering and fraud regarding Trump University. If he loses those cases, the landscape for criminal charges could change says Peterson. Trump knows this because his playbook even instructed his staff on what to do if a district attorney should arrive when they were trying to make a sale.
The 2008 Trump University playbook instructed what to do if a district attorney were to arrive "on the scene." pic.twitter.com/YIUE5MIHMJ— Jeff Nichols (@backwards_river) June 1, 2016
In one of the cases currently open on the docket, Cohen v. Trump, wire and mail fraud allegations are made against Donald Trump and Trump University. The Constitution says that it would be Congress that makes the decision for impeachment.
Peterson says, “Congress would be well within its legal rights under the Constitution to insist upon a President who is not a fraudster or a racketeer as defined in its own laws.”
Also, impeachable offenses are not limited to time in office. Peterson notes that being impeached for actions taken before the individual was in office is rare, but, not unprecedented. He cites the case of Governor William Sulzer of New York, who was impeached in 1913 and whose articles of impeachment cite “filings of false statements of campaign receipts and expenditures prior to taking office.”
Sulzer was impeached on three of eight articles of impeachment, reports PBS, with two of the articles pertaining to actions taken before he took office.
U.S. District Court Judge Curiel is presiding over two of Donald Trump’s fraud and racketeering cases in San Diego, California. There are multiple motions on the dockets seeking dismissal of these cases that are many years in progress, one having been filed six years ago.
Judge Curiel has denied those dismissals. He also denied Donald Trump’s request to put off the trial of one until January, 2017. That trial is set for November 28, 2016, with jury instructions hearing occurring two days after a new president is elected.
Donald Trump has not spoken much about Trump University, likely due to the fact that he has open cases and he himself has said that he can’t discuss it publicly. But it hasn’t stopped him from discussing it on occasion at some rallies.
He has said his lawyers say he is going to win his cases. But he has also described the San Diego court system as rigged, as you can see in this clip here when addressing the Trump University fraud claims.
A Trump University scam was discussed at length by Hillary Clinton during the Democratic National Convention, and Trump University is likely to be discussed by Hillary Clinton in tonight’s first presidential debate, reports the New Yorker.
How or if the Trump University problem will impact Donald Trump’s campaign, or his office if he wins, remains to be seen. Would you be concerned about a president that was facing a racketeering lawsuit?
[Feature Image by Bebeto Matthews/AP Images]