It could well turn out that the walk-in closets of billionaire Donald Trump hold some formidable skeletons. While the GOP frontrunner is now regarded far and wide as the inevitable Republican nominee come November, a scandal from his past might derail his political momentum in just a few months. According to the Week, the real estate mogul is listed as a witness in a huge fraud case regarding one of his most infamous business fiascoes, Trump University. The Week notes that Trump has been called as a witness for both sides in the case and that any court appearances could interrupt his campaigning during primary elections in May and June.
As explained in a report published by Politico, Trump University was founded in 2005, but the endeavor was not established as a traditional learning institution. Rather, the curriculum involved seminars and specially produced materials. Those who enrolled are said to have paid thousands of dollars in hopes that they would learn the kind of practices and skills that would make them wealthy and business savvy.
But after a slew of complaints emerged alleging that Donald Trump’s virtual institution was not delivering the proverbial goods to paid students, a number of agencies took action against Trump University. According to Think Progress, the New York State Department of Education formally enjoined Trump University to stop using the word “university” to describe itself. The program subsequently changed its name to “Trump Entrepreneur Initiative” in 2010 before winding down operations in 2011.
Trump University was sued in 2013 by the New York State Attorney General, who alleged the program made false claims regarding its services. As previously noted by the Inquisitr, Trump University has also been the subject of two class action lawsuits in California. The aforementioned actions were filed by former students of that program.
The Week quoted an account by one of Trump University’s former students, who indicated that he spent $34,995 on program courses and materials. In the end, he earned some certificates of completion, which he described as “meaningless,” as well as a photo of himself with a life-size picture of Donald Trump.
A 2015 investigation by Mediaite unearthed a video in which Donald Trump asserted that he would be personally involved in Trump University. He assured prospective students that he would “hand pick” faculty and that the education received through Trump University would be better than what people could receive at conventional business schools. Over a decade later, Trump’s legal counsel has decidedly walked back the businessman’s claims by merely asserting that plaintiffs cannot prove the courses were not without value.
Yahoo News suggests that the flap has already caused Donald Trump to shift a bit of his attention away from the campaign trail. The outspoken candidate dipped below the media’s radar for a bit in December to participate in a closed-door pretrial deposition in the case. According to one litigant in the case, Trump has threatened to bring financial ruin upon her for her role as lead plaintiff in the pending civil action. Donald Trump’s testimony in that deposition remains under seal at present.
Should Trump’s success in primary elections carry him through the Super Tuesday primaries of March and subsequent contests, he will have amassed a nearly insurmountable lead over his GOP rivals. It is hard to imagine that allegations of fraud and retaliation will go unnoticed by prospective voters, but then again, the very rise of Donald Trump as a top contender has been just one unlikely development in an uncanny political season.
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