Media Piles On in Trump Deposition Video Fight

     SAN DIEGO (CN) — With the presumptive Republican presidential nominee calling Trump University evidence of his qualifications, six media outlets urged a federal judge to let them intervene in one of the class actions that “school” inspired, where a court seal protects Donald Trump’s videotaped deposition.
     Led alphabetically by ABC, the outlets seek to “permit the public filing and dissemination of the complete transcripts and video tapes of the Trump depositions,” so “hundreds of pages of the deposition transcripts and the corresponding videos remain out of public view.”
     Art Cohen is the lead plaintiff in the case, which says Trump used the color of an educational institution to bilk thousands of dollars from students.
     Rather than getting any real educational value from enrollment, the students say Trump University seminars at hotels across the country merely encouraged them to spend even more money on upgrade packages.
     A partially redacted transcript of Trump’s deposition shows the Republican defending the business practices of his now-defunct school, but CNN and toher other outlets note that portions of his depositions “”remain designated as ‘confidential’ under the parties’ broad stipulated protective order.”
     Cohen filed 32 video clips from Trump’s Dec. 10, 2015, deposition and 16 video clips from his Jan. 21, 2016.
     Because Cohen lodged the videos “non-electronically” as exhibits, however, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel found Thursday that the plaintiff did not follow procedure.
     The videos thus remain under wraps.
     Though Curiel released portions of Trump’s deposition transcripts on June 3, the media outlets emphasized in their June 10 motion that hundreds of pages missing.
     Trump has failed to show “good cause” for restricting the disclosure of his deposition videos, the outlets argue in pushing for the release of the videos and complete transcripts.
     They say he also failed to show how release of the tapes could potentially prejudice him or cause particularized harm.
     CBS Broadcasting and CBS Interactive joined the 27-page motion for intervention, along with CNN, NBC, The New York Times, Tribune Publishing Co. and the Washington Post.
     “With so much information about TU already in the public domain, defendant cannot meet his burden of demonstrating good cause by speculating about vague commercial harm if his sworn testimony about these same subjects is disclosed,” the motion states.
     The Washington Post moved originally to intervene in the case back in April, noting that Trump University has become “a prominent issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.”
     The new motion notes that the outlets have been “reporting for years” on Trump University and the lawsuits against the shuttered school. They say confidentiality designations protecting Trump’s deposition preclude the media from doing their job to inform the public.
     Trump has opposed the motion, citing the possibility that he would face a competitive disadvantage, or that disclosure could reveal his trade secrets and impact the future of Trump University if he chooses to resurrect it.
     The media outlets said such concerns “could hardly be more general.”
     Back on May 27 order, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel unsealed nearly 1,000 pages of documents, including the highly secretive Trump University playbooks which revealed the sales and marketing strategy and other internal operations of the real estate school.
     The media outlets called it “implausible” for Trump to claim that his trade secrets must be protected in case he revives Trump University.
     “TU stopped enrolling new students or holding live events in 2010, and his claim that it ‘may’ resume operations ‘appears to be wholly speculative,'” the motion states. “Even if defendant were to revive TU in some form in the future — which is implausible in light of the pending presidential election, this lawsuit and the New York Attorney General’s pending action against TU — he could not show that the disclosure of the remaining portions of his deposition testimony in this case would cause any concrete competitive harm to such a hypothetical endeavor.”
     The outlets also asked Curiel to reconsider a previous ruling by U.S. Magistrate Judge William Gallo, which allowed some disputed documents to remain sealed.
     They say Curiel’s May 27 order “superseded” Gallo’s ruling.
     Another section of the motion points out that the parties did not even enter a protective order for Cohen v. Trump. Instead the court amended the “blanket” protective order in the related Low v. Trump University LLC for application here.
     “Courts applying the balancing of public and private interests under Rule 26 have often found in favor of disclosure in exceptional cases like this one, in which the deponents are politicians or other prominent individuals who placed themselves at the forefront of public controversies, and there are no substantial countervailing privacy interests,” the outlets wrote.
     “The same principle applies here, where, regardless of the outcome of the case, the litigation bears on the conduct of a candidate running for the most powerful public office in the country.”
     Trump himself has thrust this case into the public sphere by “emphasiz[ing] his business record and negotiating skills as his main qualifications to serve as president of the United States,” a point that rival candidates contest.
     “This litigation is not simply about a private-sector business dispute; it now directly involves a central issue in a presidential election campaign,” the brief states. “The public interest in these videos also is far stronger because they would provide the electorate with valuable insight into the demeanor of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.”
     The outlets are represented by Kelli Sager with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Los Angeles.
     A hearing on the media outlets’ motion has been scheduled for June 30.

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