Paula Jones fosters recent release of Trump’s video deposition
Fairfax trial lawyer on the difficulty of public figures sealing their litigation words
Donald Trump is a verbal loose cannon who clearly spent insufficient time preparing for the first presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, in which he heavily bombed. Moreover, by Trump’s own admission (near the beginning of his deposition), he spent only moments preparing for his videotaped June 16, 2016, deposition concerning his lawsuit over Geoffrey Zakarian’s cancellation of his restaurant’s Trump-D.C. hotel lease, after Trump’s 2015 public trashing of Mexican immigrants. (Trump has also sued over very popular chef Jose Andres’s restaurant lease cancellation over Trump’s 2015 screed about Mexicans.)
Had Trump bothered to check with the right lawyer (whether that lawyer is or is not his current lawyer in the Zakarian suit), he would have been warned about the real possibility that all documents and depositions in the case will be released to the public. In fact, on August 4, 2016, the District of Columbia Superior Court issued an order denying Trump’s request to seal the June 16, 2016, deposition video of Trump. Congratulations to Buzzfeed in convincing the court to make the video deposition public. Had Trump wanted to avoid such a disclosure, he could have agreed to Zakarian’s last pre-deposition settlement offer.
The full video deposition footage is here. I have listened to the first fifteen minutes of the video, to find the Donald Trump we all know: Overly-self assured, unprepared (unprepared to talk and unprepared to be president), overly wordy, and only comfortable taking control of the conversation. In diplomacy, as a for instance, preparation, patience, listening skills and no over-reliance on underlings are key, all of which are lacking with Trump.
The video deposition also shows a Donald Trump who signs major leases without reading them, presumably relying on his lawyers to give the go-ahead. A president, however, does not have a budget to pay corporate lawyers $500 hourly and up to review Congressional Bills, treaties, draft executive orders and other critical documents. Even if most corporate executives operate in the same way, I am very skeptical that Trump would be sufficiently detail-oriented as a president. Hillary Clinton — on the other hand, as much as I am not fond of her, but am even less fond of Donald Trump — clearly is very intelligent, detail oriented, energetic, and accomplished as a lawyer including covering the details.
In any event, and ironically, in denying Trump’s motion to seal his video deposition from public disclosure, Trump’s judge found helpful non-controlling precedent in Hillary Clinton’s husband’s failure to seal his video deposition in Paula Jones’s sexual harassment case against him. Trump Order at p.6. Trump — who has his own questionable record on marital fidelity — routinely attacks Hillary Clinton in relation to Bill Clinton’s infidelities, and now gets bitten in the butt in the same way as Bill Clinton in unsuccessfully trying to seal his video deposition.
Public figures beware. If you don’t want your dirty laundry exposed with your litigation depositions, consider the benefit of settling your disputes before lawsuits are filed or at least before depositions are taken.