Donald Trump and his children just suffered a loss in a class-action lawsuit relating to their decade-long hawking of an investment in a desktop video phone service on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice. If the investors prove they were defrauded, this lawsuit will stand as yet another example of the Trump family’s long record of deception. Perhaps of even greater significance, however, is this lawsuit’s potential to produce a bombshell that could hurt Trump’s reelection chances more than the Access Hollywood tape did in 2016.
Although the suit was filed in 2018, the Trumps recently claimed that the investors were contractually bound to resolve their dispute through arbitration. But a federal judge, U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield, ruled on Wednesday that the investors were only bound in this way to ACN, the marketing company behind the phone service, according to reporting by Bloomberg. Since this lawsuit was brought only against Trump, Don Jr., Eric, Ivanka, and the Trump Corporation, it may therefore proceed in court. The judge reportedly also took the opportunity to rip the Trumps for their hypocrisy in first using the courts to help their case, then suddenly demanding arbitration.
On Thursday, Judge Schofield issued another ruling that she believes is “appropriate” to allow the investors to present their case against the Trumps, as also reported by Bloomberg. She ordered Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the studio behind Celebrity Apprentice, to show the investors hundreds of hours of recordings from two episodes of the show that were never broadcast.
While this second ruling might not normally be a big deal, the underlying video footage has long been rumored to contain a shockingly offensive collection of racist and sexist utterances from the Creep in Chief. Not only have former contestants such as Omarosa Manigault Newman and Penn Jillette claimed to have heard such filth, but Bill Pruitt, a former Apprentice producer, tweeted in 2016 that these recordings are “far worse” than the Access Hollywood tape.
This new pair of rulings gives the investors the green light to pursue their fraud claim against the Trumps and gain key ammunition to prove their case. These rulings should also make Trump very nervous, both as a businessman and a politician. Although Trump (with Russia’s help) managed to eke out an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite the release of the Access Hollywood tape, a fresh set of even more damaging recordings could knock his reelection campaign permanently off the rails. Stay tuned.