A man uses a laptop.
Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa/AP

Republicans’ 2016 email advantage starts to evaporate

If nothing else, Republicans at least had emails.
 
The GOP presumptive presidential nominee may make ignorant, dishonest, vulgar, and racist comments, and may have a platform to match, but Hillary Clinton did not properly follow cabinet-level email server protocols – and as has become abundantly clear, the political world has collectively decided that cabinet-level email server protocols are extremely important.
 
But it now appears even this advantage is slipping away. USA Today reported yesterday that Donald Trump was accused in a lawsuit of “destroying email evidence.”
In 2006, when a judge ordered Donald Trump’s casino operation to hand over several years’ worth of emails, the answer surprised him: The Trump Organization routinely erased emails and had no records from 1996 to 2001. The defendants in a case that Trump brought said this amounted to destruction of evidence, a charge never resolved.
 
At that time, a Trump IT director testified that until 2001, executives in Trump Tower relied on personal email accounts using dial-up Internet services, despite the fact that Trump had launched a high-speed Internet provider in 1998 and announced he would wire his whole building with it. Another said Trump had no routine process for preserving emails before 2005.
According to transcripts obtained by the newspaper, Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld, who oversaw the case, found Team Trump’s claims about missing emails literally unbelievable.
 
“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,” the judge said at the time.
 
Or put another way, if you’re one of those voters who planned to vote on the basis of email server management, I’m afraid both of the major-party candidates are in roughly the same boat.
 
Following up on our previous coverage, these revelations stem from an investigation by USA Today into Trump’s extensive background as a litigant. The paper recently broke some news, noting that Trump and his business enterprises have been involved in “at least 3,500 legal actions in federal and state courts during the past three decades.”
 
Last week, USA Today went a little further, noting by way of the same materials that many of the court cases involved ordinary Americans – mechanics, plumbers, painters, waiters, dishwashers, etc. – who sent Trump bills for completed work, and the New York Republican simply refused to pay.
 
Not to diminish USA Today’s fine work in this area – it’s been genuinely impressive – but I continue to marvel at the fact that Trump had 16 rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, and not one of them bothered to dig up any of this information during the primaries.
 
The revelations have required some thorough reporting and considerable journalistic effort, but we’re talking about publicly available documents, which competent opposition researchers could have found if paid to go looking.
 
 

Donald Trump

Republicans' 2016 email advantage starts to evaporate