Donald Trump has personally agreed to pay $25 million dollars to the victims of his Trump University scam, settling class action fraud and racketeering charges in federal court as well as New York state charges.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement which declares that Trump paid a seven-figure fine for breaking his state education laws. Trump’s fake university ran afoul of laws meant to protect residents from predatory private for-profit colleges that took your money and then gave you a cereal box diploma:
I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result and I am pleased that their patience–and persistence–will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.
In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known at Trump University. Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. 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.
Trump lost a fourth lawsuit related to his sham university, after he sued a former student in retaliation for reporting him to the authorities. That retaliatory lawsuit was judged a violation of the First Amendment, and he paid the student’s attorney’s fees after losing. That student Tara Markeiff became lead plaintiff in the class-action fraud case settled today, but dropped out in March complaining that Trump’s abusive litigation tactics were unbearable.
Earlier this year, then-Republican candidate Donald Trump crowed to the Republican primary audience that he never settles lawsuits, and did the same on cable TV, but on the eve of the trial scheduled for November 28th, in a San Diego federal court, he folded.
“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.”
The phony lawsuit against Trump U could have been easily settled by me but I want to go to court. 98% approval rating by students. Easy win
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2016
New York’s Attorney General called Trump University a fraud from “beginning to end.”
“We have a law against running an illegal unlicensed university. This never was a university. The fraud started with the name of the organization, and you can’t just go around saying this is the George Stephanopoulos Law Firm/Hospital/University without actually qualifying and registering, so it was really a fraud from beginning to end.”
Trump’s lawyers admitted that he reviewed fraudulent print advertising, owned the business and participated in discussions with his management team. Those facts became central to the case against him personally for racketeering, which of the three lawsuits presented the highest risk after his legal team lost a hail mary bet to obtain summary judgement this summer.
America has never elected as President a politician who just paid a massive ten-figure sum to settle allegations of running an unlicensed private education company scam from beginning to end.
Author’s note: The settlement does not contain an explicit admission of guilt, which was noted in the original draft of this report. Donald Trump did pay a penalty fine to New York for breaking the law.
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats 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