Donald Trump and the elastic measuring tape

Wednesday 21 September 2022. The news headlines are full of the bloodcurdling threat from President Putin of nuclear escalation of the conflict in Ukraine. What could possibly match its importance and newsworthiness? Answer. A breaking story about Donald Trump: 

President Trump, family members and business are served notice of a civil suit for fraud by New York Attorney, Letitia James.

The news took me back to my times in the classroom in which I found a highly effective way of studying leadership was using a version of the case study method pioneered by Harvard Business School. 

I followed the system summarising the story as a short case study which can be used as study material. I have ‘deleted expletives’ throughout. At times I have used a degree of literary licence in my imagination of the events portrayed.

Donald Trump scowled down from the heights of his Trump Tower apartment. Using his gold-plated remote he switched off the 84 inch wall screen. The face of New York district attorney Letitia James faded into a yellow spot and then disappeared. But her words were still ringing in his ears.

‘She’s done it. She’s [deleted expletive] done it. The little [strong expletive deleted]. She’s out to get me, trying to put me down.’

‘Put us down’, his daughter Ivana snapped. ‘The lawsuit is for the whole [mild deleted expletive] family. It was your idea to use the elastic tape measure. You read out the result. What did she say? How we declared our Trump Tower residence at 30,000 square feet for valuation purposes, but actually it measures 11,000 square feet,  something you were well aware of’.  

‘I was the President. I was busy making America great again and I’m supposed to remember the bigliness of the apartment? She’s a horrible person. One of Hillary’s flunkies, right?  It’s all fake news. Get Fox to cut out the stuff they’ve been running about Putin and his bomb shtick. Have them put Rudi on.’

‘Rudi’s not on board any more,’ Donald Junior said, ‘We’ve a new lawyer we borrowed for the other cases against you. She’ll have to do’. I’ll get on to Fox,

Fox News took the call from Donald Junior. A few hours later they interrupted their tale of the brain freeze by President Biden in response to Putin’s nuclear threat: .‘Breaking news from New York of the politically motivated actions of under pressure Attorney General Letitia James, in efforts to boost her re-election chances. A legal expert speaking for the Trump family says ‘the elastic measuring tape story is fake news’

Donald calls out through the open door of the bathroom where he has been composing one of his fundraising messages. ‘See. Knew it. Dribbling Joe can’t outwit me. My legal IQ is the highest ever recorded. I coulda been the greatest lawyer of all time, instead of the greatest President of all time. Let’s see what Hillary’s [deleted expletive] jumped-up ] nasty witch-bitch has to say about that. She started all that negative cofefe against me.’

.He operates his gold-plated remote, the one that works round corners. Letitia James reappears on screen. She is concluding her announcement:

‘Our complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us. He did this with the help of the other defendants.  I want to be clear. White collar financial crime is not a victimless crime. Claiming you have money you do not have, does not amount to the art of the deal. It’s the art of the steal … No one is beyond the law

Donald hurls the gold-plated phone into the room, where it bounces off his gold plated bullet-proof replica of himself as Forbes Leader of the 20th Century. 

‘No Rudi? Steve, then. Get Steve Bannon’ he shouts.

‘He’s out of it, too. The hearing’s set for the Autumn. You’re on your own big Daddie, Donald Junior said. 

A curious flushing noise is heard from the bathroom, followed by a long drawn-out groan …

Discussion questions for leadership students:

If the civil lawsuit is not the same as a charge of committing a criminal offence, why should Donald Trump worry?

Do you consider the use of an elastic measuring tape a creative action 

(a) by Donald Trump

(b) by the case study author

(c) Nobody

How much money will Trump be able to raise from his supporters through this attempt to blacken his name?

Do you really need to know what were the deleted expletives, before answering these questions?

Answers submitted before the end of the lawsuit will be eligible for consideration for publication in a future blogpost or podcast.

You can read more about the matters in the case here: