According to USA Today, transcripts from a 2006 lawsuit against the big bouncing birthday boy Donald Trump, who turns 70 today—when did he get so big??—reveal that his company, the Trump Organization, regularly erased all emails from 1996 to 2001.
The gist of the Trump company’s suit in a Broward County, Fla., court was that while he was working with Trump, Fields had developed the idea of working with the Seminole Tribe in Florida to build a casino, then told Trump the idea wasn’t going to fly. Fields then left Trump’s employ at the end of the 1990s and struck the same deal with other partners.
Trump sued Fields and the companies he had ended up working with on a Seminole casino, arguing that Trump Hotels should be entitled to all profits the casinos produced, which were expected at the time to be more than $1 billion over 10 years.
The companies Trump sued argued that if it was true that Trump Hotels had been pursuing a similar deal with the tribe, there would be emails and other records documenting their discussions. The judge agreed and ordered Trump Hotels to hand over emails, financial documents, executive meeting calendars and so forth.
But the emails no longer existed (if they ever had). “My understanding from speaking to my client is that there are no emails,” Trump company’s lawyer, Robert Borrello, said at a March 2006 hearing. “They don’t keep emails from the time period from ’96 until within the last couple of years, when the organization instituted retention procedures for keeping emails electronically.” An IT director testified that there were no routine procedures in place for preserving emails before 2005. Also, Borrello said, Trump himself didn’t even use email.
The judge in the case was baffled. “He has a house up in Palm Beach County listed for $125 million, but he doesn’t keep emails. That’s a tough one,” Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld said. “If somebody starts to put forth as a fact something that doesn’t make any sense to me and causes me to have a concern about their credibility in the discovery process, that’s not a good direction to go, and I am really having a hard time with this.”
Despite this, Trump has not shied away from criticizing Hillary Clinton for using her own private email server as secretary of state and deleting emails she thought private. “And where are your 33,000 emails that you deleted?” he asked on Twitter last week, after Clinton told him to delete his account. “What she did is a criminal situation,” he said on CBS earlier this month. “She wasn’t supposed to do that with the server and the emails.”