Court Rejects Trump Motion To Bar Campaign Statements From Fraud Trial

trump_university_logo495px-Donald_Trump_by_Gage_SkidmoreWe have previously discussed the extraordinary prospect of a President-elect Donald Trump being called as a witness between his election and his inauguration. That prospect is still quite real, even though U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel pushed both sides to settle the case involving Trump University. He also rejected a motion to bar campaign statements by Trump at trial, an interesting ruling that seems in part due to the failure to specify the statements that the defense wanted to exclude from trial.

Judge Curiel pushed the parties to settle “given all else that’s involved.” Federal courts often pushed for settlements at this stage, though there is obviously more reason to do so here. It could be a problem for Trump who pledged to fight and win the case, but a settlement would remove considerable distraction for his new administration.

Curiel did allow Trump to give his testimony by video link in light of his responsibilities as the President elect.

The fraud case is actually quite interesting. The claims are based primarily on alleged assurances or indications that Trump University was an accredited university, that Trump handpicked top experts in the field to teach them, and they would receive a year of mentoring. However, the case does raise the long-standing warning of caveat emptor (“buyer beware”) for consumer to separate puffery from promises in such arrangements. Many were sold after watching what was clearly an infomercial. The Trump team insists that these students were unsuccessful due to their own failings and many actually gave the course high marks for satisfaction. I have long been a critic of such commercial “educational” products, even with accredited online universities. Students often pay huge amounts and receive sub par courses or educations. While the base course only lasted 3 days and cost $1,500, the gold or elite mentored courses could go as high as a shocking $35,000.

Trump University was incorporated in 2004 and Donald Trump owned 93% of the company. Notably, however,
in June 2010, “Trump University” dropped the educational reference and changed its name to “The Trump Entrepreneur Initiative.” It then shutdown in 2010.

Trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 28 and, while he allowed for briefing on another delay, Curiel indicated that he was not inclined to do so.

The Trump lawyers sought to exclude trial statements but did not appear to adequately specify the statements according to Curiel who said “Defendants have not identified specific evidence that they wish to exclude. Accordingly, the court declines to issue a blanket ruling at this time.”

I view the Trump motion as meritorious if it is fully detailed and supported. I think comments about the judge or other issues is likely to be prejudicial and distracting. The closer question would be comments about the case itself. Many judges would allow those comments to be introduced. In that sense, Curiel’s decision makes sense. The Trump lawyers can object in the course of the trial to specific questions and he will weigh the probative value of the statements against their prejudicial impact.

68 thoughts on “Court Rejects Trump Motion To Bar Campaign Statements From Fraud Trial

  1. One wonders how long it will take until this almost convicted criminal, who has to pay restitution to his victims will morph the way he lost but didn’t legally get blamed into a big win in court. You know the courts where he loses on a regular basis but has never lost cuz the legal wording didn’t say that….. Trump and Frank were racists and the Donald still is, but they never legally got blamed for their racism, just had to stop openly being racist. When one considers the rabid racists like Sessions and the rest of the thus far appointed clowns, it seems that Trump is still a racist and a bigot but hasn’t actually admitted or been forced to admit it, yet. The world’s most consummate liar is now the President of the US, our country. One now can ask if those dupes that voted for this pile of lies really wanted change or perhaps are simply closet racists and bigots. This is the question that must be asked.

    • issac,

      Don’t go saying bad things about The Donald. Poor fella just had to settle a fraud lawsuit for 25 million. It’s so sad he had to settle because, ya know, he was just too busy.

      ***

      Trump tweets he settled $25M fraud case because he’s too busy
      http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/11/19/president-elect-hints-he-might-not-have-settled-if-he-werent-get-ready-for-his-inauguration/94123452/

      President-elect Donald Trump, reversing an earlier pledge and agreeing to settle fraud cases over the now-defunct Trump University for $25 million, sought to minimize the deal Saturday by suggesting he likely would have fought and won the case if he wasn’t so busy with pre-inauguration demands.

      “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

      ***

      I wonder if he’ll find the time to sue the women who accused him of sexual harassment–as he said he would before the election.

        • edm – I, along with 3 others, once settled a $10 million suit for $400. We were not at fault but the costs and attorney fees were eating us alive. We knew that $400 meant she would have to pay some of the costs of the suit herself. We also admitted no fault.

        • NO! Really? You are such a wealth of information.

          ***

          Lest we forget:

          Donald ‘Never Settle’ Trump Settles Trump University Fraud Lawsuit for $25 Million
          The president-elect has agreed to shell out millions to student victims over claims his school engaged in fraud, but he won’t have to admit fault.
          http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/18/donald-never-settle-trump-to-settle-trump-university-fraud-lawsuit-for-20-million.html

          In the not-too-distant past, President-elect Donald Trump vowed to fight lawsuits against Trump University, the now defunct eponymous real-estate seminar program that former students alleged used aggressive marketing techniques to bilk them out of tens of thousands of dollars but failed to make good on promises to make them rich.

          In February, Trump tweeted, “Trump University has a 98% approval rating. I could have settled but won’t out of principle!”…

          “I don’t settle lawsuits,” Trump later explained to an Arkansas crowd after his primary opponents began using Trump University as evidence that the real estate developer and reality television star was simply a con man. “Probably should have settled it, but I just can’t do that. Mentally I can’t do it. I’d rather spend a lot more money and fight it.”

  2. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/11/18/reports-trump-nears-settlement-trump-u-fraud-case/94068946/

    Trump had publicly vowed not to settle the lawsuits and suggested at one point during his presidential campaign that he might reopen the school, which closed in 2010. He told supporters at a May rally that he would come to San Diego to testify after winning the presidency.

    “I could have settled this case numerous times, but I don’t want to settle cases when we’re right. I don’t believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as a settler. One thing about me, I am not known as a settler,” Trump said at the time.

    However, an exclusive analysis by USA TODAY of more than 4,000 lawsuits involving Trump and his companies over the years shows that just isn’t true.

    USA TODAY tracked down the records in thousands of Trump’s court battles dating back to the 1980s, in courts coast to coast, and found that the business mogul settled lawsuits at least 259 times. Almost 200 of those were cases where he and his companies were defendants, although the terms of the settlement agreements often are kept out of court records and plaintiffs are required to sign agreements pledging not to disclose details. In hundreds more cases, court records indicate legal disputes were resolved outside court with the details shielded from public view.

    Also, the USA TODAY database of court records shows today’s settlement is unique in its size. While there may be larger settlements in Trump’s lawsuits that are shielded by non-disclosure agreements or sealed records — notably his divorce from Ivana Trump, which remains under seal despite attempts by the media to obtain the records during the presidential campaign — the $25 million payout is by far the largest Trump’s empire has paid out to someone.

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