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Deposition Dates Set for Donald Trump and Two of His Adult Children in Lawsuit Accusing Them of Promoting a Pyramid Scheme


Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, President Trump, Donald Trump, Jr.

Former President Donald Trump and two of his adult children are scheduled to sit for depositions within months in a lawsuit accusing them of promoting a pyramid scheme, a new federal filing indicates.

In a jointly filed status update, attorneys for both of the parties revealed that the former president will sit for deposition this summer on June 16. His adult sons will take the hot seat a little more than a month earlier, with Eric Trump slated to testify on May 12, 2022 and Donald Trump, Jr. on May 10, 2022.

“Defendants have not yet offered a deposition date for Ivanka Trump,” the status update states. “The parties are meeting and conferring concerning the locations and logistics of these depositions.”

The document shows the steady progress of a complex and potentially ugly lawsuit that the Trump family initially and unsuccessfully sought to secretly adjudicate in private arbitration.

Initially filed anonymously in 2018, the lawsuit alleges that the Trump Corporation promoted a multi-level marketing scheme—better known as a Pyramid scheme—through the company ACN Opportunity, LLC, which operates under the name American Communications Network. The four named plaintiffs, suing under a proposed class action, agreed to waive their anonymity last year in filing a second amended lawsuit.

ACN, the plaintiffs said, was a “get-rich-quick scheme” that relied on Trump and his family “conn[ing] each of these victims into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars” in alleged violation of various state laws.

ACN forced investors to sign an arbitration agreement, but the Trumps, who are also named defendants, did not. The Second Circuit likewise denied the Trump family’s preference for arbitration last year.

The latest lawsuit alleges that the Trumps arranged for ACN to appear twice on The Celebrity Apprentice, described in the complaint as a “primetime national television show that the Trumps used for what Defendant Ivanka Trump has called a ‘transparent form of product placement.'”

Trump Celebrity Apprentice

Former President Trump’s promo of ACN on “Celebrity Apprentice,” as embedded in the lawsuit.

“Ms. Trump noted that ‘the show’s producers (including my father, naturally) are being compensated handsomely for the ‘free’ airtime’ they offered to corporate sponsors,” the complaint alleges. “And one of those very producers described the program as a ‘convenient vacation [from] the truth,’ especially for businesses that ‘weren’t actually doing very well’ — businesses like ACN. The use of the Trump brand and these appearances on The Celebrity Apprentice were intended to create (and did create) a veneer of legitimacy and an impression of success, which further encouraged consumers to take the message seriously and rely on it.”

In addition to Trump and his three children individually, the Trump Corporation is named as a defendant, and the plaintiffs have sought to depose two of its employees in service of their claims.

“Defendants offered deposition dates for two former employees of The Trump Corporation,” Friday’s filing states. “Additionally, deposition dates for the four Plaintiffs have been proposed and we expect to agree upon dates shortly.”

According to the latest filing, the plaintiffs “completed their on-site review of unaired footage from two episodes of The Celebrity Apprentice, and have designated certain footage (under 50% of the total footage) that Plaintiffs believe is relevant for copying, with Plaintiffs bearing the reasonable costs.”

The plaintiffs’ attorney Roberta Kaplan did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. Neither did an attorney for the Trumps.

Read the status update below:

(Image via TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."