Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Trump family

President Donald Trump and his three eldest children—Eric, Don Jr., and Ivanka— were named in a federal lawsuit filed Monday. (Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Lawsuit Charges Trump Organization a 'Racketeering Enterprise That Defrauded Thousands of People for Years'

The president and his three eldest children, the suit claims, have operated "with a singular goal: to enrich themselves by systemically defrauding economically marginalized people looking to invest in their educations, start their own businesses, and pursue the American dream."

A new federal lawsuit charges that President Donald Trump, his company, and his three eldest children—Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric—deliberately defrauded working-class Americans by convincing them to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in sham business opportunities and training programs.

As the New York Times reports, the 160-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Monday depicts the Trump Organization—the primary holding company for the president's vast network of businesses—"as a racketeering enterprise that defrauded thousands of people for years as the president turned from construction to licensing his name for profit." 

"For more than a decade," the complaint alleges, the president and his children named in the case "have operated a large and complex enterprise with a singular goal: to enrich themselves by systemically defrauding economically marginalized people looking to invest in their educations, start their own businesses, and pursue the American dream."

The suit targets two of the president's multi-level marketing companies—ACN, which provided telecommunications services, and the Trump Network, which sold vitamins—as well as the Trump Institute, described as "a live-seminar program that purported to sell Trump's 'secrets to success' in extravagantly priced seminars."

It was brought by four plaintiffs who are using pseudonyms because of "serious and legitimate security concerns given the heated political environment." The plaintiffs' attorney fees are being covered by the nonprofit Tesseract Research Center, whose chairman is Democratic donor Morris Pearl.

Trump Organization attorney Alan Garten dismissed the allegations as "meritless" and told the Times, "This is clearly just another effort by opponents of the president to use the court system to advance a political agenda."

Plaintiff attorneys Roberta A. Kaplan and Andrew G. Celli Jr. said in a statement that the case was motivated by "systematic fraud that spanned more than a decade, involved multiple Trump businesses, and caused tremendous harm to thousands of hardworking Americans." Denying suggestions that the suit was intentionally filed just ahead of the midterm elections, they added, "The case is being brought now because it is ready now."

While Kaplan and Celli told the Times they are unaware of "any prior case against the Trumps alleging consumer fraud on this scale," this isn't the first time the president has been sued for fraud. Shortly after winning the 2016 presidential election, he settled for $25 million after being accused of "swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of ​millions of dollars through a scheme known as Trump University."

Additionally, in June, after a two-year investigation, New York State filed suit alleging that the Trump Foundation, the president's charity, had engaged in "persistently illegal conduct," including violations of campaign finance laws and tax regulations, and illegal coordination with his presidential campaign. That case is being held up by an ongoing court battle over whether a sitting president can be named in a civil suit.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

NYC Mayoral Candidate Eric Adams Rebuked for 'Dangerous' 400-Students-to-1-Teacher Theory

"Defunding schools to the point that we have a 400:1 student-to-teacher ratio so we can bankroll another huge expansion in an already-multibillion dollar police budget," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, "is how you build a school-to-prison pipeline."

Jon Queally, staff writer ·

Lack of Patent Waiver Would Add Over $70 Billion to Cost of Vaccinating World: Oxfam

Most of that money, said a spokesperson for the group, "will go directly into the pockets" of Big Pharma shareholders.

Jon Queally, staff writer ·

Darnella Frazier Receives Pulitzer Special Citation 'for Courageously Recording the Murder of George Floyd'

"Without Darnella, Derek Chauvin never would have been tried and George Floyd would have been blamed by the state for his own death."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

'We Are Sounding the Alarm': Global Left Warns Right-Wing Fujimori Trying to Steal Election in Peru

"Fujimori’s only way forward to victory is simple: annul tens of thousands of already tallied votes," warned Progressive International. "Powerful forces are organizing to deliver this outcome."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·

'Climate Denial Masquerading as Bipartisanship': Progressives Reject Latest Infrastructure Compromise

"Refusing to act on climate means selling out future generations. The future of our planet and the health of our communities are non-negotiable."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·