It’s official, Donald Trump’s legal Hail Mary pass in federal court has failed, sending his already tenuous Trump University legal defense into a tailspin. Trump lost a motion for Summary Judgement which would haveve ended the case in his favor, and instead expended his four “best” defenses in trying.
The Court ruled that during his desperate bid for a Summary Judgement, Trump proved that the case has numerous disputed facts which require a trial.
Trump will face a civil trial for class-action racketeering charges (a case of extreme fraud, litigated on behalf of all those harmed) in front of Judge Gonzalo Curiel this fall. Over a year ago, the deceptive, hard-sell, no info “university” was nothing more than a national fraud racket organized from 40 Wall Street by the self-styled “blue-collar billionaire” that meets all the qualifications for a class action suit – everyone involved was harmed.
If Trump loses at trial, a personal bankruptcy is very likely, according to the Texas Attorney General’s office. A loss could end with the real estate magnate, television personality, and professional bigot losing $135,000,000 or more, and lose triple damages, which would be the amount of money TrumpU raked in, estimated at $35 million from thousands of students. Additionally, Trump could get stuck paying “reasonable attorney’s fees,” to his victims too, which in a case that’s lasted three years and has been fought scorched earth-style, will be astronomical.
Even worse (for Trump at least), there is a companion class action lawsuit also in front of Judge Curiel for multi-state consumer fraud too; incidentally, this is a case in which Trump lost an epic judgement for bullying a plaintiff, and violating her First Amendment rights too – which is going to trial on November 28th, 2016.
Trump’s lawyers must have known that their Presidential candidate client would have difficulty facing a divided Republican National Convention while openly facing personal bankruptcy, and possibly a future criminal indictment for Racketeering fraud. So Trump’s lawyers made up a defense that can only be described as the “it wasn’t me” defense.
Judge Gonzalo Curiel’s ruling explains this in depth, but here’s the key part:
Specifically, Defendant argues that Defendant’s role in “planning and launching TU “investing his own money,” “controling a majority ownership stake in TU,” “reviewing financial documents,” conducting “status meetings with TU President Michael Sexton,” and “reviewing advertisements ‘very quickly’” constituted only “ordinary business conduct by a principal invest or and top executive,” not Defendant “directing the operations or management of TU.”
Here, however, as Plaintiff points out, it is precisely the marketing materials reviewed and approved by Defendant that form the basis of the fraud alleged.
One of his TrumpU employees even testified that Trump personally called to complain that one of his ads was placed in a newspaper on an even numbered page, instead of an odd numbered page.
He was that hands on.
Judge Curiel also found Trump’s argument that, “this case epitomizes the pervasive abuse of civil racketeering [RICO],” was also void, just a criticism of the bench from lawyers with a lost case. They just complained about the system and asked Trump for a free pass, even when his victims already established all of the elements of racketeering. Judge Curiel’s chastisement of the argument as an attempt at policy-making rang especially ironic, coming from a virtually “policy free” candidate (unless it’s about Ukraine, racial hate or a wall):
Ultimately, while Defendant may believe that, as a policy matter, civil [racketeering] ought not be extended to consumer class action cases, it is not for this Court to effectuate Defendant’s policy preferences in contravention of the settled approach of the higher courts.
The racketeering case began 2013, Art Cohen was fed up after attending Trump University and filed the lawsuit, which has gone through an endless amount of hurdles to stand today within sight of the finish line. First, Cohen’s team of attorneys had to defeat Trump’s attempt to dismiss the case because the red-faced Republican candidate’s “puffery” shouldn’t be relied upon as fact. Not only did they lose the argument, but they tried to bring it up again and lost again in today’s ruling too.
Trump University has been a thorn in the side of the Republican candidate for president ever since Florida Senator Marco Rubio brought it up in a primary debate this past February. The “RICO” racketeering law was created to stop the American mafia and punish mail and wire fraudsters who participate in organized criminal companies to rip people off; that may very well be what Donald Trump’s Republican campaign for President becomes most known for doing to his own political party too.
It looks like this may be the final straw that tips Donald Trump’s opaque finances over the edge. No wonder he’s saddling up to Putin.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition