Donald Trump’s Trump University scam was despicable. He scammed 7,611 people who trusted in his same into giving him thousands of dollars for something he knew was worthless.
He’s being sued on behalf of students, and his attack on the impartiality of Judge Gonzalo Curiel, one of the judges in the case, based on Curiel’s Mexican ancestry, has created an uproar among both liberals and conservatives.
Actually the knee-jerk reaction to Trump’s attack on Curiel serves Trump’s purpose, because it shifts attention away from the major issue, which is the Trump University scam.
Trump University, which operated from 2005 to 2010, recruited students by offering free 90-minute real estate seminars in 700 cities from 2005 to 2010. The purpose of the seminars was to sell them on signing up for $1,495 three-day seminars. From there the next step was to sign up students for a $9,995 “silver” or $34,995 “gold” program.
Even after that, students were asked to spend more for books, additional courses and other materials.
Donald Trump said students who enrolled at Trump University would learn the secrets of getting rich in real estate from hand-picked instructors.
None of these things were true. The instructors had no qualifications or expertise in real estate. Trump himself barely knew them. They were chosen for their ability to sell students on signing up for more expensive courses.
Their employee manual, which has been leaked to The Atlantic and other publications, gave extensive instructions on how to do that. Students were encouraged to dip into retirement funds, and told how to apply for increases in the limits on their credit cards.
At least one was a high school student. Many were veterans, retired police officers and teachers. In return, they got little more than motivational speeches.
Trump claimed that Trump University received more than 10,000 testimonials from students—which means a lot of them must either be fake or be signed by attendees at the free seminars.
What he doesn’t have is a testimonial from anyone who attended Trump University, succeeded in real estate and attributed it to Trump U’s instruction.
Steven Brill reported that legal records show that Trump University took in more than $40 million, of which Trump himself received $5 million.
Donald Trump faces three lawsuits concerning Trump University. Two are class action suits by former students in San Diego, where Judge Curiel presides. The other is a suit initiated by former New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman in New York, charging deceptive practices and failure of Trump University to meet New York state requirements for claiming to be a university.
If Trump loses the lawsuits, he’ll be branded as a liar, a hypocrite and, worst of all, a loser. He’d rather be thought an anti-Hispanic bigot than any of those things. That’s why he’ll keep up his attacks on Judge Curiel.
Yes, Trump University Was a Massive Scam by Ian Tuttle for National Review.
What the Legal Battle Over Trump University Reveals About Its Founder by Steven Brill for Time.
“It was a facade, a total lie”: new documents reveal how Trump University scam worked by Libby Nelson for Vox.
The Art of the Upsell: How Donald Trump Profits From ‘Free’ Seminars by Tom McNichol for The Atlanic.
State attorneys general who dropped Trump University inquiries subsequently got Trump donations by Matt Yglesias for Vox.
Trump University: A Scam, But a Familiar One by David Halperin for Republic Report.
Why the Trump University lawsuits could be catastrophic for Trump by Libby Nelson for Vox.
Three Interesting Tidbits About Trump University by Kevin Drum for Mother Jones.
Why Donald Trump won’t stop talking about Judge Curiel by Noah Millman for The Week. [Added 6/14/2016]
Here’s some more about Trump’s business practices.
How Donald Trump Bankrupted His Atlantic City Casinos, but Still Earned Millions by Russ Buettner and Charles V. Bagli for the New York Times.
Hundreds allege Donald Trump doesn’t pay his bills by Steve Reilly for USA Today.