New York’s attorney general, who is leading a lawsuit against Trump University there, made his view of the case clear on Thursday: “It’s fraud. This is straight up fraud.”
Eric Schneiderman laced into presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump over the suit during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” repeatedly describing the businessman as dishonest and manipulative in his role with the now-defunct program.
“The law is very clear. The law protects the gullible as well as the sophisticated. As we’ve seen over the course of the last year, there are a lot of people who fall for Mr. Trump’s promises and rhetoric,” Schneiderman said.
Trump is currently facing three separate lawsuits – two class action suits filed in California and one in New York by Schneiderman – which argue the program that took in an estimated $40 million, but was mired in fraud and deception.
Schneiderman’s case argues that Trump and Michael Sexton, the former president of the program, engaged in fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct, and that although the program promised to offer courses taught by experts personally selected by Trump, the teachers were neither handpicked nor experts.
Schneiderman has repeatedly lambasted Trump and his “university,” telling CNN’s Carol Costello Tuesday on “Newsroom” that Trump “defrauded people out of money. They’re entitled to their day in court.”
“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,” Schneiderman told CNN. “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.”
Schneiderman also stressed to MSNBC that his suit was not political.
“We sued him in 2013. He says it’s a political case. Nobody in August 2013 thought that this guy was going to be the Republican nominee for president,” the attorney general said Thursday. “Thousands of people were bilked out of millions of dollars. Our first priority is to get their money back and to reestablish the legitimacy of educational institutions in New York State.”
And Schneiderman was emphatic about the merits of the suit, rebutting the argument advanced by Trump that students have said they were happy with the product they received from the school.
“This is straight up fraud. It’s like selling people a Mercedes and getting a Volkswagen. Even if people say, ‘I kind of like the Volkswagen,’ it’s still fraud, not a Mercedes,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman also revealed that Trump – who has loudly proclaimed he “never settles” cases – had tried to seek a settlement in the case.
“He did offer to settle. He settles cases all the time,” Schneiderman said, adding that as a result of “a series of motions” and appeals, “I don’t think we’ll have a trial until after the election.”
Trump defended Trump University last week during a campaign rally in San Diego, where he attacked several of the judges involved in 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,” Trump said.
“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,” Trump told the crowd.