March 27, 2018

PLAUSIBLE IGNORANCE:

Trump Under Oath: Sometimes Combative, Often Boastful, Usually Lacking Details (Tamara Keith, 3/27/18, NPR)

In deposition transcripts over the years, Trump comes across as uninterested in details, unfamiliar with legal documents and occasionally impatient. One theme that emerges is preparation. Baum, in the 2016 session, asked Trump what he did to prepare.

Baum: What did you do to prepare for the case today, for the deposition?

Trump: I would say virtually nothing. I -- I spoke with my counsel for a short period of time. I just arrived here, and we proceeded to the deposition.

Baum: Thank you. So you didn't look at any documents or

Trump: No, I didn't.

Baum: anything.

In a 2011 deposition for a case related to a failed Florida condo and hotel development, the plaintiff's lawyer Elizabeth Beck starts by asking Trump to look at a document.

Beck: Exhibit 323.9 (Whereupon, a document entitled 10 Re-Notice of Taking Deposition11 was marked Plaintiff's Exhibit 32312 for identification.) Mr. Trump, have you seen this document before?

Trump: I don't know. Hold on, let me just see. Not that I know.

Beck: Well, this is your deposition notice. Are you here pursuant to this re-notice of deposition?

Trump: Yes, I am.

Early on Beck asks Trump about how involved he is in decision-making at the Trump organization.

"If other people in your organization makes that decision, do they do it with your approval and/or sanction?" she asked. "Generally, yes," Trump said.

"When would that not be the case?" Beck asks. "I don't know of any case where that's not the case," Trump responds.

But, then, throughout the deposition he repeatedly claims a lack of knowledge, saying details were handled by his children and telling Beck she will have to check with his lawyers or accountant to get an answer.

At one point, Trump gets testy.

"I think they're stupid questions you're asking me," Trump says. "I think you're asking very stupid questions."

Whether these were strategic claims of ignorance or simply a lack of familiarity with the document and details is unclear. But it fits a pattern going back to 2007, when Trump sat for two days in a deposition in a suit over the book Trump Nation, The Art of Being The Donald by Tim O'Brien.

"Oh no no no, he did not prepare," said O'Brien in an interview with NPR. "It wasn't even just my sense of it. He was comically unprepared."

Posted by at March 27, 2018 2:03 PM

  

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