Donald Trump’s now-defunct Trump University is currently the target of multiple lawsuits. Among them is one brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The suit was filed in 2013 and has not yet been settled. Schneiderman recently spoke with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News’ Good Morning America about the Trump University lawsuit and stated, “It really was fraud from beginning to end.” He preceded this statement with an explanation in response to Stephanopoulos’s question about what laws Trump allegedly violated.
“In New York, we have laws against business fraud, we have laws against consumer fraud. We have a law against running an illegal unlicensed university. This never was a university. The fraud started with the name of the organization, and you can’t just go around saying this is the George Stephanopoulos Law Firm Hospital University without actually qualifying and registering.”
Schneiderman sits on the Hillary for New York Leadership Council, and, for this reason, Donald Trump charges that the attorney general’s case against Trump University is politically motivated. In his appearance on Good Morning America, Schneiderman dismissed that charge, clarifying that the case against Donald Trump was brought in 2013, long before Trump announced his candidacy for president of the United States. He also stated that the case was filed only after 2 years of gathering facts about Trump University and Donald Trump’s actions.
In his interview, Schneiderman also stated that Donald Trump has previously made statements under oath that clearly indicate fraud. Both Trump and the university president have testified under oath that they never met the organization’s instructors, despite their claim in university promotional materials that instructors were hand-picked by Donald Trump. He has also testified under oath that he did not assist in writing the curriculum, although university promotional materials promises to teach students his personal secrets.
The New York attorney general also appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this week and stated about Trump University, “It’s fraud. This is straight up fraud.” The three lawsuits that Donald Trump is currently facing in relation to Trump University allege that he took in over $40 million based on fraud and deception. CNN reported on an interview Schneiderman had with their Carol Costello, in which he stressed the significance of the case.
“This is a hugely important case. If you look at the facts of this case, this shows someone who was absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people, to say whatever it took to induce them into his phony seminars. Telling people who are in hard economic times — we’re talking about 2008, 2009 — people desperate to hold onto their homes, to make some money, convincing them that he will teach them his entrepreneurial secrets.”
He also spoke out about the claim Donald Trump has made recently that he “never settles.” Schneiderman states that Trump has tried to settle the case, and that he settles cases often. Due to outstanding motions and appeals, the attorney general doesn’t expect the case to go to trial until after the presidential election. He states, however, that if Donald Trump does win the presidential election, he can still be tried for the Trump University case, even if it goes to trial with him as the sitting president. Being president of the United States would not, he said, make him immune from civil fraud trials.
Trump University was founded by Donald Trump, Michael Sexton, and Jonathan Spitalny in 2005. The New York Times reports that Trump owned 93 perecent of the company. His primary role was promotion, rather than day-to-day operations. In documents recently released as part of a California lawsuit against the organization, former Trump University employees stated that among the tactics taught by the organization in its employee guides was to encourage interested individuals to max out their credit cards, and even to open as many new credit card accounts as possible in order to pay for the courses.
[Photo by Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press]