Politics & Policy

Donald ‘D-Minus’ Trump: Trump University Headed to a Courtroom Near You

Trump at the press conference announcing Trump University in 2005. (Mario Tama/Getty)

Donald “D-minus” Trump won big on Tuesday evening, but lost big on Tuesday morning. Before scoring victories in seven primaries, Trump suffered a legal setback that could explode in his face later this election year.

A four-judge appellate-court panel in Albany rejected Trump’s motion to dismiss Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s (D., N.Y.) $40 million fraud lawsuit on behalf of some 5,000 students who spent up to $35,000 at Trump University. They learned little, and now ask — as Billy Joel once did — “Is that all you get for your money?” The judges unanimously cleared this case for trial. Thus, the potential Republican presidential nominee soon could address twelve Manhattan jurors under oath, rather than 12,000 Michigan voters under blue skies.

“I’ve won most of the lawsuits,” Trump told CNN February 25. “I could settle it right now for very little money, but I don’t want to do it out of principle.”

RELATED: Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam

However, the Washington Post gave Trump’s denial three out of four Pinocchios for being “mostly false.” Trump has won specific court rulings. Regardless, he faces three suits that denounce him for highly shady business practices.

New York State’s case accuses Trump of “engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with the operation of Trump University.”

Trump faces three suits that denounce him for highly shady business practices.

Specifically, Schneiderman states that Trump & Co. “used the name ‘Trump University’ even though they lacked the charter necessary under New York law to call themselves a University.” State officials told them in 2005 that they were breaking the law. Nonetheless, “Trump University did not change its name until May 2010 and never received a license to operate in the state. As a result, many students believed they were attending a University, when they were not.”

The suit says that Trump U.’s ads showed Trump’s photo and promised that students could “copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.”

“Many consumers who made the costly investments did not receive the individual mentor attention promised,” Schneiderman further contends. “After an initial three-day session, many mentors failed to return phone calls or e-mails and provided little to no follow-up assistance. . . .  Instead of a personal appearance from Donald Trump as some consumers were led to expect, some participants got their photographs taken with a life-size photo of Mr. Trump.”

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“More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got.”


‐ In Makaeff v. Trump University, a class-action lawsuit filed in federal court in southern California, the plaintiffs accuse Trump U. of “taking advantage of these troubled economic times to prey on consumers’ financial fears for its own financial gain.” The suit also alleges that Trump U. taught students to perform “transactions that are illegal in California and other states, such as posting anonymous ‘bandit signs.’” These resemble road-warning markers but actually promote real-estate deals. Plaintiff Tarla Makaeff “had no idea they were illegal until she was contacted by the District Attorney’s Office and told that those techniques could subject her to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, a misdemeanor charge, and up to six months in jail. As a result, she was required to retain a criminal attorney.”

‐ In Cohen v. Trump, another southern Californiabased federal class action, the plaintiffs argue that “The misleading nature of the enterprise is embodied by its very name. That is because, though Defendant promised ‘Trump University,’ he delivered neither Donald Trump nor a University.” Further, “Trump University provided no degrees, no credits, no licenses, nor anything else of marketable value to student-victims.”

RELATED: Trump’s Yuuge Lies

The suit notes that “in January of 2010, the Better Business Bureau gave Trump University a D minus rating.” Later, “After Defendant changed Trump University’s name in mid-2010, Defendant demanded an ‘A+’ evaluation, and when the BBB was unable to issue a good ‘grade’ due to ongoing consumer complaints, Defendant Trump called the BBB and his lawyer threatened to sue the BBB. As a result, the BBB changed Trump University’s ‘grade’ to ‘NR’ for ‘Not Rated.’”

#related#Most ominously for Trump, plaintiff Art Cohen accuses him of “a pattern of racketeering activity” under 18 U.S. Code § 1962, the notorious RICO statute, normally deployed against the Mafia and other organized-crime syndicates.

Republican-primary voters should ask themselves if they really want to bet the White House on Donald “D minus” Trump, a candidate who faces three major fraud lawsuits, including allegations of running a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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