Thursday, August 13, 2020
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Trump settles fraud suit over his university

Donald Trump agreed today to pay $25 million to settle a series of lawsuits over his venture, Trump University, preventing a trial in which a sitting president might have had to testify in his own defense over fraud allegations made by former students, the New York Times reports.

Calvin Coolidge

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the settlement agreement 10 days before one of the cases, a federal class-action lawsuit in San Diego, was set to be heard by a jury.

Students alleged they paid up to $35,000 in tuition for “educational” programs that, according to the testimony of former Trump University employees, used aggressive sales tactics and unqualified instructors. From the legal filings:

Another New York customer explained: “My entire ‘mentorship’ with [my Trump University mentor] consisted of three telephone conversations. … I wasted my entire life savings on Trump. I spent $1,495 on the Trump three-day seminar and $24,995 on the Trump Gold Elite mentorship package only to be demeaned and belittled. I feel like such a fool. Trump did not help me with my real estate investment questions. Nor did I learn anything of application to other real estate transactions. My finances deteriorated significantly and I was left insolvent by Trump University.”

At a hearing on the case in San Diego, one of Mr Trump’s attorneys said he had settled the case “without an acknowledgment of fault or liability.”

A spokesperson for the Trump organization told FOX News: “We are pleased to announce the complete resolution of all litigation involving Trump University. While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-Elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation.”

Certain promises were made to students by officials at the now-defunct Trump University, and phony approval ratings were contrived with phony websites, with some students being encouraged to sign adoring testimonials they didn’t want to.

As with any for-profit college, I urge you to remember that at most reputable colleges and universities, even those that operate for profit, an education is worth what you put in.

It appears that wasn’t the case at Trump U., and students put more in than they got out because of unkept promises. Note that the federal government, for which Mr Trump will serve as the chief executive beginning in two months, includes 15 departments, one of which is the Department of Education, which maintains a college report card that, with great difficulty, allows you to check out the credentials of colleges and universities.

Even Mr Trump warned perspective students a few decades earlier that even if they had what it would take to be successful, he wouldn’t be rooting for them to succeed—if only they had read his book The Art of the Deal:

Unlike the real estate evangelists you see all over television these days, I can’t promise you that by following the precepts I’m about to offer, you’ll become a millionaire overnight. Unfortunately, life rarely works that way, and most people who try to get rich quick end up going broke instead. As for those among you who do have the genes, who do have the instincts, and who could be highly successful, well, I still hope you don’t follow my advice. Because that would just make it a much tougher world for me.

Now, the first part of that semi-paragraph is good advice, despite the assertion a little later that success depends in part on your “genes.” But the second part provides insight into the workings of the mind of our next president and his sarcastic thought processes.

Contrast that with former President Calvin Coolidge’s words: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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