Real estate mogul and TV star Donald Trump listens as Michael Sexton introduces him to announce the establishment of Trump University at a press conference in New York, May 23, 2005.
Photo by Bebeto Matthews/AP

‘Trump University’ fraud allegations aren’t going away

A few weeks ago, Donald Trump’s attorneys, defending their client against civil fraud allegations in the “Trump University” controversy, asked the judge in the case to exclude practically everything the Republican said during his presidential campaign. As the lawyers put it, Trump’s rhetorical record might have undue influence over jury members who might be offended by his outlandish antics.

That request wasn’t well received. U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the target of racist attacks from Trump during the campaign, ruled yesterday that such a request was overly broad and vague.

Which led to a separate, and arguably more curious, request from Trump’s legal team. The Washington Post reported:
Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump went to court Thursday to ask that a civil fraud suit against Trump scheduled to begin in less than three weeks be delayed, a reminder of the unusual complications facing Trump as he shifts from businessman to commander in chief.

Trump’s attorneys said he will be too busy with the presidential transition to participate in the Nov. 28 trial involving his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University. They asked that the trial be postponed until February or March, after he has taken office.
As the case has proceeded, the judge has been reluctant to delay the trial, in part because some of the alleged victims defrauded by Trump’s so-called “university” are elderly.

But even putting that aside, it’s hard to see the wisdom of the Republican’s lawyers requesting a delay. Does Trump really want to be the first president in American history to give sworn testimony – within the first two months of his first term – in a case in which he’s accused of fraudulent business practices?

Wouldn’t it be vastly better to get this testimony over with in November, rather than have this linger as Trump’s attempts at governing get underway?

For his part, Curiel advised the attorneys to consider a settlement, which would make the case go away. Trump has boasted that he never settles lawsuits, but that was before Americans made him president.

Postscript: I don’t mean to sound picky, but under normal circumstances, when a president is accused of fraud, among other things, it’s the sort of allegation Congress might consider investigating with a hearing or two.

The fact that Congress has a Republican majority means Trump won’t have to worry about this kind of scrutiny – at least for the next two years.