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2016 investigations: Tracking Trump, toxins and teachers Featured

2016 investigations: Tracking Trump, toxins and teachers


USA TODAY 11 a.m. EST December 20, 2016
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(Photo: Mark Makela, Getty Images)
From coast to coast this year, USA NETWORK journalists tracked President-elect Donald Trump's thousands of lawsuits, teachers who lost their licenses in one state and moved on to teach in another, and water utilities delivering drinking water to customers contaminated with lead.

Here's a look back at just some of USA TODAY's investigative journalism in 2016.

Trump and the Law: A deep dive into President-elect Donald Trump's 4,000-plus lawsuits

Donald Trump ran for president touting his success in business. So what's his track record? A lot of the back story is shielded from public view because Trump's ventures are private companies.

But, more than 4,000 times over about four decades, Trump and his companies ended up in court. The USA TODAY Network tracked the thousands of cases in courthouses coast to coast and these are the stories we found about the ways that Trump and his companies operate.

Dive into Donald Trump's thousands of lawsuits


What we found was an unprecedented number of lawsuits -- 3,500 at first and ultimately growing to more than 4,000 as the coast to coast check of courthouses continued throughout the year. Trump and his companies had found everyone from local governments to vodka makers in court.

The lawsuits revealed things about Trump's track record as a business mogul that became part of the campaign narrative. For instance, our review uncovered employees and contractors who had to take legal action to get paid by Trump and his companies. Hundreds say he doesn’t pay his bills, including painters, dishwashers and cabinet-makers.

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USA TODAY exclusive: Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills
At least 20 lawsuits involved allegations that Trump and his companies mistreated or discriminated against women, a story which broke at the time that the candidate was facing allegations of unwanted advances involving female colleagues and business associates.

They also uncovered more than 100 legal disputes involving Trump and his companies fighting their tax bills, or not paying taxes on time until facing legal action from local, state or federal government agencies.

And while Trump is well known for threatening to sue people who say things he doesn't like, the exclusive data collected by USA TODAY showed that Trump rarely follows through on threats to sue people in those cases. And, when he does, he almost never wins.

Around Election Day, we reported how Trump's 75 or so open lawsuits could distract from his presidency or raise conflicts of interest, something that's continued to be an issue as his inauguration nears.

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