President-elect Donald Trump agreed to a $25 million settlement Friday to end the Trump University fraud cases.
As the Washington Post notes, the settlement eliminates the possibility that Trump will be called to testify in court while he transitions into the presidency. It also ends three separate lawsuits, including two in California and a civil lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in 2013.
Schneiderman released a statement Friday saying that his office sued Trump for “swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars.”
“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,” Schneiderman said.
Trump has previously bragged that he does not settle lawsuits. “I don’t settle cases. You know what happens? When you start settling lawsuits, everybody sues you,” he said on MSNBC in March, responding to a question about Trump University. “I don’t get sued because I don’t settle cases. I win in court.”
Trump University began operations in 2005 as a for-profit learning annex promoting free 90-minute seminars that promised to teach people how to invest in real estate and make money like Trump.
According to Schneiderman’s 2013 complaint, the free seminars were a marketing ploy, and attendees were subjected to a “methodical, systematic series of misrepresentations” that were used to convince attendees to sign up for an additional three-day course that cost $1,495.
Indeed, a 41-page Trump University playbook prepared for seminar leaders in Texas in 2009 encouraged them to “sell, sell, sell,” and put up a minimum sales goal of $72,500 per seminar, which meant that seminar leaders were expected to convince 20 percent of their attendees to purchase the three-day seminar for $1,495.
According to the Post, lawyers for Trump are working to reduce the number of legal entanglements he has before he takes office. The Trump University cases were based on complaints from customers who said they were fooled by false promises that they would learn Trump’s personal techniques for succeeding in real estate. Although advertisements promised that the instructors were personally handpicked by Trump, the president-elect acknowledged in depositions that he did not pick seminar leaders.
Friday’s settlement also includes a $1 million penalty paid to the state of New York for violations of the state’s education laws in calling the program a “university” even though it does not offer degrees or traditional education.
Read more at the Washington Post.