Donald Trump Sued For $40 Million; Suggests President Obama Is Behind It
Donald Trump is being sued for 40 million dollars by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for alleged fraud regarding his "Trump University."
Donald Trump is being sued for $40 million by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for alleged fraud regarding his "Trump University."
In a lawsuit filed on Saturday, Schneiderman accuses Trump of lying to students of his “Trump University,” essentially alleging that the ‘school’ was nothing more than a money-making scheme.
“Trading on his celebrity status, Mr. Trump personally appeared in advertisements making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got. No one, no matter how rich or famous they are, has a right to scam hardworking New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable,” Schneiderman said in a statement.
The lawsuit covers the years 2005 to 2011 and alleges that Trump and those in charge of his Trump University failed to fulfill promises made to students enrolled in the program. Students paid up to $35,000 for seminars, courses and personal mentorship that, according to the suit, failed to fulfill promises as they were advertised. Some students paid $35,000 for “Trump Elite” mentorship programs, in which they were promised personal mentorship until they made their first sale in real estate. Others paid around $1,495 to take part in a three-day seminar which promised classes taught by instructors handpicked by Trump, a claim the lawsuit says is a complete fabrication.
“Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers’ advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm. Trump University, with Donald Trump’s knowledge and participation, relied on Trump’s name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand,” Schneiderman elaborated.
Furthermore, the lawsuit claims that “Trump University” encouraged students to enter into extreme credit card debt to both pay for the programs and try their hand at real estate deals. The three-day seminar programs promised attendees that they would walk out ready to be successful business and real estate entrepreneurs, leading students to enter into debt to participate.
“Trump University” has been in trouble with the law since its inception. Beginning in 2005, the New York state Education Department put Trump on notice, stating that the program was not an accredited university and did not have the right to call itself a university. In 2010, the organization changed its name to “Trump Entrepreneur Institute.”
The suit seeks restitution for about 5,000 students who were allegedly duped by the program and was filed to the New York Supreme Court on Saturday, Aug. 24.
Trump hit back at Schneiderman, calling the lawsuit “extortion.”
“This entire investigation is politically motivated and it is a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money,” Michael D. Cohen, one of Trump’s attorneys, said in a statement.
Trump appeared on multiple talk shows yesterday, including Today and Fox & Friends, to attack Schneiderman. The business mogul called Schneiderman a “lightweight” Attorney General and questioned his motives. Trump alleges that Schneiderman repeatedly assured him that the case against “Trump University” had no standing and asked Trump and his team of lawyers for campaign donations during the investigation.
“During the investigation, he was asking people in my firm, including one of my lawyers, for campaign contributions. Who ever heard of this? He’s asking for campaign contributions while he’s looking into Trump. I mean, what kind of attorney general is this?” Trump said in a phone interview on Monday’s Today.
Trump also claims that Schneiderman is using him for publicity, and suggested that he might retaliate with a lawsuit of his own. Trump contributed $12,500 to Schneiderman’s 2010 campaign, and insists that Schneiderman is bitter that Trump didn’t offer him more money.
“When you get 98% approval ratings from the people that took the courses and then you get sued, that’s rather shocking,” Trump told Fox & Friends.
However, this is not the first time a suit has been filed against Trump for his ‘educational’ businesses. In 2010, a class-action lawsuit was filed in California. accusing “Trump University” of fraud. Trump attempts to discredit the California lawsuit on his website, ‘98percentapproval.com,’ which was launched over the weekend in answer to Schneiderman’s suit. The site claims that “Trump University” offered a money back guarantee and that the California lawsuit is nothing more than a scam.
“Schneiderman chose to devote such valuable taxpayer dollars to looking into Trump University even though there was already a class action lawsuit pending in CA. brought by the firm of disgraced former lawyers and convicted felons Bill Lerach and Mel Weiss,” declares the website.
Schneiderman insists that the state has evidence to back up their allegations against Trump and “Trump University.”
“We’ve gotten their playbook, which is their guidelines to instructors. We’ve gotten the testimony of the former president of the university. This was a scam from top to bottom. They were telling people to raise the limits on their credit cards – who did – so they could then use that money to buy more Trump programs,” Schneiderman said during an appearance on MSNBC.
Trump has also repeatedly been saying that President Obama is behind the lawsuit, though Schneiderman insists that Trump University was just one of the many for-profit schools investigated by the Attorney General’s Office.
Wow, l just found out that A.G. Schneiderman met with President Obama in Syracuse on Thursday — and sued me on Saturday! Same as IRS etc.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2013
The President reportedly met with Schneiderman on Thursday, the two played golf together, but Schneiderman insists that he never discussed Trump with President Obama during their meeting.
“The President and I had much more important stuff to talk about than Donald Trump…I never discussed Mr. Trump with the President of the United States,” Schneiderman said during an interview on CNN.
Trump remains adamant that the suit comes directly from the President, even using his time on Fox & Friends to publicly reach out to the Tea Party for help exposing this alleged conspiracy.
He also reached out to the Tea Party via Twitter Tuesday morning.
There has been a systematic targeting of the Tea Party by the Obama administration. Now Schneiderman goes after me. No coincidence.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2013
Trump has also been attempting to paint Schneiderman as a hypocrite, attacking his record in an effort to prove that he is being unfairly targeted.
“He [Schneiderman] lets Jon Corzine take $1.4 billion dollars and doesn’t do a thing. He lets Wall Street and everybody else rape everybody, and doesn’t do a thing. He goes after Donald Trump for his school that has a 98 percent approval rating,” Trump said on Today.
Attorney General Schneiderman, who is also making the talk show rounds, says that he is unfazed by Trump’s accusations.
“Trump is – look, this is very common. Prosecutors are used to people making wild accusations. He still has yet to address any of the merits of the claims that we’ve sent in,” Schneiderman said during an appearance on Today Tuesday morning.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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