President-elect Donald Trump has made an abrupt about-face with regard to the Trump University fraud lawsuit that dogged his presidential campaign. According to the New York Attorney General’s Office, a settlement agreement was reached on Friday. Reportedly, Donald Trump has agreed to pay victims of the Trump University debacle to the tune of $25 million.
The decision to settle the case out of court came just days after ABC News reported that Donald Trump’s legal team had filed a motion to delay the start of the Trump University trial until after after President-elect Trump is inaugurated on January 20. The trial in the Trump University case was slated to begin on November 28.
According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, he is pleased with the outcome of the Trump University case, of which $4 million of the $25 million will reportedly be used to satisfy Schneiderman’s claims of fraud against the program.
“Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university. I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws.”
According to the plaintiffs in the Trump University lawsuit, which was originally filed in 2010, the system of real estate seminars didn’t deliver on their promises. Reportedly, students of the “school” were led to believe that it was an accredited educational institution; in addition, attendees claimed that they were pressuered and even bilked out of thousands of dollars, money paid to be mentored by “instructors hand-picked by Donald Trump.” Some plaintiffs in the Trump University case claim that they were out-of-pocket as much as $35,000.
As Reuters reports, Donald Trump’s Trump University settlement did not require the former reality TV star and real estate mogul-turned-president-elect to admit that he’d done anything wrong, let alone admit that he or his institution had committed fraud.
According to AG Schneiderman, he believes that Donald Trump “swindled” money from people, many of whom were desperate and turned to Trump University in the aftermath of 2008’s Great Recession.
“In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known at Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes.”
Donald Trump’s Trump University settlement is a complete 180 for the newly minted president-elect, who has steadfastly defended his real estate program and has even taken to Twitter to brag about its “98 percent approval rating.” At that time, he claimed he wouldn’t settle “out of principle,” echoing the New York Attorney General’s claims.
The fairly anti-climactic end to the Trump University case out of New York comes after the sensational collection of lawsuits followed Donald Trump on the campaign trail for months, and even spawned one of the biggest scandals of his campaign. That scandal had to do with Donald Trump’s controversial words about U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who was trying the case.
“The trial is going to take place sometime in November. There should be no trial. This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily, everybody says it. But I have judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. I could have settled this case many times, but I don’t want to settle cases when we are right. I don’t believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as settler. One thing about me, I am not known as a settler. The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine.”
Trump further claimed that he didn’t believe he could get a fair trial from a Mexican judge, due to his plans to build a border wall and deport millions of undocumented immigrants. Nevermind the fact that Judge Gonzalo Curiel is an American-born citizen from Indiana.
Donald Trump’s words about the judge sparked allegations of racism, and set the momentum of his campaign into reverse heading into the primary election. Judge Curiel had previously encouraged both sides involved in the Trump University fraud trial to settle rather than taking the case to trial, but a deal could not be reached.
Friday’s Trump University lawsuit should put an end to the issue before it can follow Donald Trump into his presidency. Reuters reports that their source claims that Friday’s settlement will cover claims involved in all three current lawsuits dogging the now-defunct Trump University. Those lawsuits included the New York case, as well as two class action lawsuits out of California.
In all, the New York Attorney General has publicly claimed that more than 5,000 former Trump University “students” were victims of fraud due to the real estate seminar’s “deceptive” marketing; collectively, the victims in the Trump University case are believed to have lost nearly $40 million.
Neither Donald Trump, nor his legal team, have yet to comment on the settlement in the Trump University fraud case.
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