FACT CHECK: Has Trump Been In Thousands Of Lawsuits?

Kush Desai | Fact Check Reporter

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra claimed on “Fox News Sunday” that President Donald Trump has been involved in thousands of lawsuits.

Verdict: True

Analyses of court records confirm that Trump or his companies have been named in thousands of lawsuits.

Fact Check:

California filed over 20 lawsuits against the Trump administration in 2017 over issues ranging from Obamacare to environmental regulations. Becerra, who has led many of these suits, scored a recent win by obtaining a temporary halt on the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA. Discussing this victory, Becerra claimed that Trump has been party to “thousands” of lawsuits.

“Clearly, the President has continued to be arbitrary and capricious in the way he’s tried to undo things,” Becerra said. “And that’s why, as I said before, we haven’t lost a case yet against Donald Trump, a guy who should know how to operate in the courts since he’s been sued or sued himself thousands of times.”

An ongoing investigation by USA TODAY has so far identified over 4,000 lawsuits dating back to the ’70s in public court records. Other top real estate magnates have been involved in far fewer suits according to the news outlet.

An April 2016 analysis by Bloomberg similarly identified at least 1,300 Trump-related lawsuits since 2000 alone.

Many lawsuits involving Trump were related to his gambling ventures. USA TODAY uncovered about 1,600 lawsuits that stem from Trump-connected casinos going after gamblers who had failed to pay their debts, in addition to numerous suits from casino patrons with personal injury claims.

Trump has a reputation for litigation, and Trump or his companies have filed lawsuits against a variety of parties such as local governments, a beauty queen and media outlets.

Trump in 2015, for instance, filed a $100 million lawsuit against Palm Beach County, Florida for allegedly directing noisy air traffic over his Mar-a-Lago resort on purpose. (The lawsuit, dropped after Trump won the presidential election, was not the first time Trump had sued the county.)

Trump has also utilized the threat of lawsuits for more political purposes. He threatened to sue then-presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz during the Republican primaries for running allegedly false ads, and recently threatened to sue the publisher of Michael Wolff’s “Fire And Fury” for defamation.

Some commentators have attributed Trump’s litigious conduct to his mentor, Roy Cohn, an attorney who advised former Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s infamous anti-communist probes. “Roy Cohn taught Donald how to come out punching, how to use lawsuits like machine gun bullets, and take a no-prisoners approach to city hall, to your business opponents, to anyone else who might get in your way,” “TrumpNation” author Timothy O’Brien told PBS’s “Frontline.”

But despite Trump’s reputation for suing others, Trump and his companies have themselves been sued many times, including high-profile lawsuits over Trump University, employee salary disputes and defamation.

A Jamaican model, for instance, sued Trump Model Management in 2014 for allegedly withholding hundreds of thousands in promised wages from her. A Trump lawyer called the claims “frivolous and bogus.”

Lawsuits against Trump have extended beyond just his business dealings. Three protesters sued Trump in 2016 for allegedly inciting violence against them by repeatedly calling to “get them out” of a Kentucky campaign rally.

Analyses by Bloomberg and USA TODAY, however, differ over whether Trump sues or gets sued more often.

USA TODAY’s findings indicate that Trump sues slightly more than he gets sued as a proportion of all identified lawsuits.

Bloomberg, on the other hand, filtered out unremarkable lawsuits related to Trump – such as personal injury complaints – from its initial tally of 1,300. It found about 200 noteworthy lawsuits, and Trump or his companies were the defendant in almost 70 percent of those cases.

As Becerra makes clear, the litigation against Trump has not ceased after he entered the White House. Trump or the Trump administration were sued over 60 times in federal court during the first three weeks of his presidency alone, a figure that does not include lawsuits filed in state and local courts.

“I hate lawsuits and depositions, but the fact is that if you’re right, you’ve got to take a stand, or people will walk all over you,” Trump and journalist Tony Schwartz write in “Trump: The Art Of The Deal.” “Nowadays, if your name is Donald Trump, everyone in the world seems to want to sue you.”

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Kush Desai

Fact Check Reporter