Before he raises his right hand to take the oath of office, Donald Trump may need to raise his right hand in court to defend himself and his Trump University.
Trial in the infamous fraud case against Trump University case is set to begin on November 28. And if it goes forward, Trump will be the first president to have to defend himself in court while preparing to move into the White House.
It is unclear whether Trump’s lawyers will call the President Elect as a witness, but it is almost a certainty that the Plaintiffs in the case will require him to take the witness stand. The suit is overseen by Judge Gonzalo Curiel who Trump attacked during the campaign saying that the judge was biased against him because of his Mexican heritage.
The fraud lawsuit is only the most publicized of the many lawsuits that the businessman turned politician is facing, and the litigation is not only unlikely to lessen or disappear when he takes office, it is likely to intensify. That is not even considering all of the lawsuits that Trump has threatened against various entities and the women accusers who have accused him of improper sexual conduct.
Also in full swing are the lawsuits that the real estate mogul has already launched, such as the one against the celebrity chefs who were announced to be opening a restaurant in his recently opened hotel in Washington D.C. but who refused after the Trump insulted Mexican immigrants when he initially announced his White House bid.
It is possible that based on his election victory, his lawyers will seek that his case be put on hiatus. An indication of whether Curiel is open to that will come on Thursday afternoon when the judge is due to hear arguments on what kinds of evidence will be allowed into the trial, including the statements that Trump made about the judge himself.
To the extent that the President Elect is going to seek to place the lawsuits in hiatus while he is in office, there is decisive Supreme Court precedent that is not helpful to his cause. In fact, the Supreme Court handed Bill Clinton, then a sitting president, a defeat when he sought to place the civil sexual harassment suit of Paula Jones on the back burner.
“Although scheduling problems may arise, there is no reason to assume that the district courts will be either unable to accommodate the President’s needs or unfaithful to the tradition-especially in matters involving national security of giving ‘the utmost deference to Presidential responsibilities,’” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote. “We have confidence in the ability of our federal judges to deal with both of these concerns.”