Trump U Shows Exactly Who Donald Trump Is: A Con Man

From Donald Trump’s overt racism and sexism to his shady business record, Trump is an uniquely disqualified candidate. His ties to Putin’s Kremlin and “legally dubious” efforts to avoid paying taxes for decades have received intense scrutiny this week, but his for-profit school Trump University is equally as disqualifying. With the start of the Trump U trials coming up with jury selection on November 28th, Trump’s sham school deserves another look.

Donald Trump will do just about anything to make a quick buck. His regular practice of stiffing small businesses, or more recently refusing to pay three-quarters of a million dollars to a pollster, is a disdainful tactic that is more fitting for a con-man than a presidential candidate. But that’s what Donald Trump is: a con-man. And his deceitful, sham of a college, Trump University is one of his worst cheats of all.

  • Trump and his team of “the best people” (including a drug trafficker and child molester) shamlessly targetted veterans, single parents, the elderly, and impoverished for the scam school.
  • Trump U sales documents reveal that recruiters encouraged potential students to rack up credit card debt they couldn’t afford, spend their retirement savings on “tuition,”  and lied to people about a downturn in the housing market, all the time promising the students they’d make back their investment.

Trump did everything he could to prevent a law suit.

Trump couldn’t buy his way out of trouble this time though. The unethical, for-profit school is still haunting his campaign and his businesses.

  • Of the 75 open lawsuits that will continue to trouble Trump after Election Day, the pending Trump University cases are considered the worst. According to USA Today, even though the cases are civil, the could be the most damaging to Trump:

While the open cases are civil, some legal scholars raise the prospect that a court could ultimately find Trump University or even Trump personally liable for fraud. 

  • Just this week lawyers suing Trump for fraud made it clear that nothing from his presidential campaign is off limits, including his racist criticism of Judge Curiel as well as his propensity to lie on the trail, according to Politico.

It’s clear Trump feels no remorse for taking advantage of people who just wanted to improve their standings through education.

  • In his deposition on Trump U, he went as far as to blame the students, not his terrible teaching tactics or so-called “professors” for not working hard enough.
  • In June, Trump again defended his corrupt “university,” tweeting that he’d reopen Trump U after he became president.

Through Trump U, the GOP nominee cheated hard working Americans out of their money with false promises — we can’t let him do it again to win the White House.

 

See searchable Trump U documents and a searchable transcript of Trump’s deposition here and here.

 

Background:

 

Trump University

2005: Trump Opened Trump University, A For-Profit Organization Offering Courses, Consulting Services, And Seminars

May 2005: Trump Announced Plans For Trump University, A ‘For-Profit University, Which Will Consist Of Online Courses, CD-ROMs, Consulting Services And Learning Annex-Type Seminars.‘ According to The Wall Street Journal, ‘Real-estate mogul Donald Trump announced his latest venture: Trump University. The for-profit university, which will consist of online courses, CD-ROMs, consulting services and Learning Annex-type seminars, will not offer degrees or grades. Courses will cost $300 and will take one to two weeks to complete. Mr. Trump, chairman of New York-based Trump Entertainment Resorts, which emerged from bankruptcy protection last week, said longer courses of two to three months would be offered in the future.‘ [Wall Street Journal, 5/24/05]

Trump University Did Not Offer Degrees, Was Not Accredited

Washington Post: Trump University Was Not Accredited And Did Not Give Out Degrees. According to Washington Post Blogs, “In 2005, the real estate magnate started an initiative that offered seminars in real estate, entrepreneurship and other related subjects and that charged from $1,500 to more than $35,000. It was called Trump University, even though it didn’t actually give out degrees and wasn’t accredited. Trump promised in one ad, ‘Just copy exactly what I’ve done and get rich.’” [Washington Post Blogs, 8/8/15]

Trump Presented Himself As Having An “Active Role” In Trump University

AP On Trump University, 2016: Trump Portrayed Himself “As Taking An Active Role, Shaping The Curriculum And Vetting The Instructors.” According to Associated Press Online, “Trump University, a school offering his insights into getting rich in real estate at three-day seminars, was different from the vitamin company. Trump was a founder and an owner, and he portrayed himself as taking an active role, shaping the curriculum and vetting the instructors. ‘My father did it, I did it,’ went one ad, referring to the fortunes they made in real estate, ‘and now I’m ready to teach you how to do it.’” [Associated Press Online, 1/27/16]

New York State Lawsuits Against And Investigations Into Trump University

May 2005: NY Attorney general Filed Lawsuit Against Trump University For Use Of The Term “University”

2005: New York State Education Department Notified Trump University That Its Use Of Term “University” Violated State Law In 2005. According to National Mortgage News, “New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has filed a lawsuit against real estate mogul Donald Trump, Trump University and its former president Michael Sexton for engaging ‘in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct.’ […] Even though the New York State Education Department notified the university as early as 2005 that these practices violated New York law, ‘Trump University did not change its name until May 2010 and never received a license to operate in the state.’” [National Mortgage News, 9/2/13]

New York Attorney General Lawsuit Against Trump University Remained Active In 2016

New York Appellate Court Ruled That Trump University Lawsuit Allegations Had A Six-Year Statute Of Limitations And Allowed The Case The Move Forward. According to The Washington Post, “Donald Trump is facing three lawsuits alleging that he defrauded thousands of students through the now-defunct Trump University, and one of those cases moved a step closer to trial on Tuesday. An appellate division of New York Supreme Court said that the fraud case against Trump could move forward, ruling that the allegations are subject to a six-year statute of limitations. Trump’s lawyers had argued that there was a three-year statute of limitations, which would have made it difficult if not impossible to prosecute most of the allegations.” [Washington Post, 3/1/16]

2011: New York State Attorney General Schneiderman Opened Investigation Into Trump University’s Business Practices

2011: New York State Attorney General’s Office Began Investigation Into Whether For-Profit Trump University Engaged In Illegal Business Practices.According to The New York Times, “The New York State attorney general’s office is investigating whether a for-profit school founded by Donald J. Trump, which charges students up to $35,000 a course, has engaged in illegal business practices, according to people briefed on the inquiry. […]The investigation is the latest problem for a six-year-old company, known until last year as Trump University, that already faces a string of consumer complaints, reprimands from state regulators and a lawsuit from dissatisfied former students.” [New York Times, 5/20/11]

August 2013: Schneiderman Sued Trump University For Fraud

Watertown Daily Times, 2013: Schneiderman Sued Trump, Trump University For “Engaging In Persistent Fraud And Illegal And Deceptive Conduct And Violating Federal Consumer Protection Law.” According to Watertown Daily Times, “Schneiderman is suing the program, Trump as the university chairman, and the former president of the university in a case to be handled in state Supreme Court in Manhattan. He accuses them of engaging in persistent fraud and illegal and deceptive conduct and violating federal consumer protection law. The $40 million he seeks is mostly to pay restitution to consumers.” [Watertown Daily Times, 8/26/13]

Student Lawsuits Against Trump University

April 2010: Tarla Makaeff Led Class Action Lawsuit Against Trump University

Former Student Tarla Makaeff Led A Class Action Lawsuit Against Trump University. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Donald Trump’s Trump University runs its seminars around the country, promising to make you rich in real estate. Several are scheduled at Chicago area hotels Sunday through Wednesday. A class-action lawsuit filed in San Diego alleges the instruction has no value other than to serve as ‘infomercials’ for more expensive products. The lead plaintiff is Tarla Makaeff of Corona Del Mar, Calif., who alleges that at a $1,495 workshop, she was told to raise her credit card limits to buy the $35,000 ‘Trump Gold Elite’ program. She charged that a promised ‘one-year apprenticeship’ never materialized and that ‘mentors’ disappeared after recommending real estate deals in which they would gain financially. Michael Sexton, president of Trump University, called it a ‘frivolous lawsuit’ and said of Makaeff, ‘She gave us the highest possible satisfaction rating and a voluntary video testimonial.’ He said the New York attorney general’s office investigated her claims and decided they were unfounded.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 5/5/10]
New York Daily News: “Dozens” Of Former Trump University Students, Including Veterans, Accused Trump University Of Cheating Them Out Of Money. According to the New York Daily News, “DONALD TRUMP charges would-be moguls up to $35,000 to ‘learn from the master’ at his online Trump U. For the mogul, it’s a win-win proposition. For many who pay up – not so much. Trump’s business education company and an affiliate, Trump Institute, have been deluged by complaints from more than 150 students in at least 22 states claiming they’ve been cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars, the Daily News found. Those complaining include dozens of retirees, veterans, laid-off workers and seniors living on fixed incomes, records show. In letters, e-mails and interviews, they charge they were pressured to max out credit cards or draw down a 401(k) to enroll in courses they found useless – then were refused refunds. The claims, which don’t involve Trump personally, focus on two for-profit firms: Trump University, the nonaccredited, Web-based school he founded in 2005, and Trump Institute, a training center that paid him a licensing fee to hold real estate seminars under his name.” [New York Daily News, 5/31/10]

2013: Former Trump University Student Art Cohen Sued Trump For Fraud

October 2013: Art Cohen Sued Trump For Mail And Wire Fraud In Violation Of RICO. According to Class Action Law Monitor, “Art Cohen saw an advertisement for Trump University in 2009. After paying $1,495 to attend a three-day real estate retreat, Cohen purchased a ‘Gold Elite’ program from Trump University for $34,995. On Oct. 18, 2013, Cohen sued Donald Trump for mail and wire fraud in violation of RICO.” [Class Action Law Monitor, 11/30/14]

Gregory Ryan Accused Trump University of Engaging In Deceptive Business Practices

In Lawsuit, Gregory Ryan Accused Trump University Of Engaging In A “Deceptive Act And Practice.” According to the case file, “The second cause of action of plaintiffs amended complaint (which appears to be incorrectly labeled third cause of action), alleges that the enrollment form is misleading because the terms of payment are not clearly set forth and as such the defendant has engaged in a deceptive act and practice in violation of NYS General Business Law (hereafter “GBL”). While it is not explicitly stated as such, the third cause of action appears to allege a violation of GBL §349(a).” [Short Form Order, “Ryan v. Trump University,” New York Supreme Court, Index No. 3758-12, filed 2/26/13]

Examples of Trump University Wrongdoing

The Trump University Playbook Told The Sales Team To Push Existing Customers To Upgrade To Costly Mentorship Programs

Trump University Playbook Urged The Sales Team To Push Further By Suggesting That Students Who Bought The $1,495 Course Upgrade To Classes With A Mentor That Could Cost Between $9,995 And $34,995. According to Trump Revealed, “The playbooks urged the sales team to push further by suggesting that students who bought the $1,495 course upgrade to classes with a mentor that could cost between $9,995 and $34,995. [Trump Revealed, 08/23/16]

Trump University Instructors Made Students Report Personal Financial Details In Order To Determine Who To Target For Expensive Programs

Trump University Students Filled Out Forms Detailing Their Personal Assets; Confidential Trump University Playbooks Revealed The Purpose Of Getting The Students’ Financial Details Was To Determine Which Customers Were Good Targets For The $34,995 Program. According to Trump Revealed, “Students filled out forms detailing their personal assets, ostensibly to provide each with targeted recommendations for investment. But the confidential playbooks revealed that the real purpose of getting the students’ financial details was to determine which customers were good targets for the $34,995 program.” [Trump Revealed, 08/23/16]

Trump University Encouraged Salespeople To Target Single Parents With Hungry Children

Trump University Playbooks Encouraged Salespeople To Target “Single Parents With Hungry Children” And Convince People “Living Paycheck To Paycheck” To Accrue Debt In Order To Finance The Program. According to New York Magazine, “If a cash-strapped applicant said, ‘I don’t like using my credit cards and going into debt,’ the playbook instructed recruiters to respond, ‘[D]o you like living paycheck to paycheck? … Do you enjoy seeing everyone else but yourself in their dream houses and driving their dreams cars with huge checking accounts? Those people saw an opportunity, and didn’t make excuses, like what you’re doing now.’ Most charmingly, the playbooks suggest recruiters exploit the desperation of a single parent with hungry children in order to convince said parent to take on massive credit-card debt.” [New York Magazine, 5/31/16]

Trump University Salespeople Encouraged Students To Open As Many Credit Cards As Possible To Pay For The Courses

Trump University Event Manager Corrine Sommer Reported That Trump University Staff Encouraged Students To Open As Many Credit Cards As Possible In Order To Pay For The Program. According to The New York Times, “The most striking documents were written testimony from former employees of Trump University who said they had become disenchanted with the university’s tactics and culture. Corrine Sommer, an event manager, recounted how colleagues encouraged students to open up as many credit cards as possible to pay for classes that many of them could not afford. ‘It’s O.K., just max out your credit card,’ Ms. Sommer recalled their saying.’ [New York Times, 5/31/16]

As Recently As June 2016, Trump Defended Trump University

2016: Trump Considered Trump University A Great Success

Trump Testified That Trump University Was More Valuable Than Other Competitor’s Courses And Claimed Even The Plaintiff In The Case Gave Trump University “Glowing Reports.” According to court records, “Jensen: ‘Do you believe that the Trump University courses were more valuable than other competitor courses?’ Schneider: ‘Objection; foundation.’ Trump: ‘I don’t know too much about the other courses. I do think that Trump University was certainly a valuable education, as proven out by 95 to 97 percent approval rating, including the highest marks from your terrible client who gave us, on tape, glowing reports. So, yeah, I think it was — was and maybe will be very good, yes.’” [“Sonny Low, J.R. Everett and John Brown, on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated, v. Trump University, LLC, a New York Limited Liability Company and Donald J. Trump,” United States District Court Southern District Of California, No. 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG, 6/22/16]

Trump Blamed Students For Not Trying Hard Enough To Make Lots Of Money

Trump On Trump University Students Not Making Their Money Back: “People Have To Go And Work. I Don’t Know. Did He Work? Maybe He Sat Down And Watched Television For A Period Of Time. I Don’t Know.” According to court records, “Forge: ‘Were you aware of representations being made to students about being able to recover their investment in the program quickly?’ Petrocelli: ‘Assumes facts not in evidence.’ Trump: ‘People have to go and work. I don’t know. Did he work? Maybe he sat down and watched television for a period of time. I don’t know. This is — no, I haven’t heard that. I’ve never seen that.’” [“Sonny Low, J.R. Everett and John Brown, on Behalf of Themselves and All Others Similarly Situated, v. Trump University, LLC, a New York Limited Liability Company and Donald J. Trump,” United States District Court Southern District Of California, No. 3:13-cv-02519-GPC-WVG, 6/22/16]

2016: Trump Said He Wanted To Reopen Trump University

During His 2016 Presidential Campaign, Trump Tweeted That He Would Reopen Trump University. According to Politico, “Donald Trump on Thursdayvowed to reopen Trump University, the beleaguered real estate seminar business that is the target of multiple lawsuits and has become a new favorite attack line for Hillary Clinton. ‘After the litigation is disposed of and the case won, I have instructed my execs to open Trump U(?), so much interest in it! I will be pres.’ Trump tweeted Thursday.” [Politico, 6/2/16]