Woman, 87, suing Donald Trump takes stand
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org May 17, 2013 6:20PM
Jackie Goldberg, leaves the Dirksen Federal Building Friday, after she testified in her lawsuit against Donald Trump. May 17, 2013 | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: June 19, 2013 6:14AM
Donald Trump accused her of playing the “age card.”
But 87-year-old Jackie Goldberg demonstrated an uncanny recollection of detail that Trump himself couldn’t match when she took the stand in Chicago’s federal court Friday afternoon.
Goldberg, who is suing the real estate magnate and TV star for allegedly using a bait-and-switch scam to sell her two hotel condo units at the Trump Tower in 2006, proved herself a formidable opponent.
She even offered Trump a backhanded compliment, saying she’d invested with him because he was a good businessmen “as far as I knew” at the time.
“I saw him in a movie with Whoopi Goldberg,” she added with a smile. “That’s about all I knew about him.”
Trump testified repeatedly earlier this week that he could not remember details of key meetings with his staff at which he decided what hotel condo unit owners like Jackie Goldberg would get in return for their money.
But Goldberg’s grasp of the specifics in the case seemed surer. Shown a large pile of marketing and highly technical contract documents by her attorney, Shelly Kulwin, she examined them carefully before telling him “they’re not all here” — sending the lawyer scurrying back to his briefcase to hunt for the missing papers.
Interpreting the contract’s small print could prove crucial for jurors. Goldberg says she was promised a cut of the Trump International Hotel’s ballroom business if she bought the condos, but Trump insists he always had a right to snatch those profits back for himself.
Goldberg also drew jurors a picture of her childhood that stood in sharp contrast to Trump’s privileged upbringing. Though she is now wealthy, she said she’d grown up in a children’s home and paid her own way through college by working as a waitress, typist and nightclub hat-check girl.
She went back to school after raising four children, when her husband became ill, and has been investing in real estate since the 1990s, she said, adding that she still works part-time as an accountant and financial advisor.
She said she’d already bought seven condos in the River Plaza building next door to the Trump Tower when Trump’s salesmen offered her the chance to buy first one, then another hotel room.
“I got pretty excited” about the promise of a cut of the profits from the hotel’s ballrooms and valet parking, she testified. “It was another income stream in addition to renting the rooms.”“It was an important factor in (buying) the first unit and a compelling factor in the second one,” she added.
Goldberg wants a jury to force Trump to pay her back the $500,000 down payment she made on the condos, plus unspecified damages.
After her confident start on the stand, she likely faces a tougher challenge next week, when Trump’s attorneys will get the chance to cross-examine her. They say she’s suing Trump because she got cold feet when the economy tanked — an allegation she denied Friday.