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Trump University: 'Classic-bait-and-switch'

Trump University offered courses in real estate

Drew Griffin - (CNN) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is on top of many lists these days, but there’s one list he would prefer to get off of.

He’s on the witness list for one of three lawsuits filed against his now-defunct namesake university and the issues surrounding that venture could haunt him as the campaign continues.

“At Trump University, we teach success. That’s what it’s all about, success. It’s going to happen to you,” Trump said in a promotional video.

The purported school operated from 2005 through 2010 and enrolled 10,000 students in real estate courses that ranged from free seminars, and up to $35,000 for advanced training and mentoring.

Trump University took in an estimated $40 million from people who believed they, too, could someday become successful.

But it turns out not everything Donald Trump promises come true, and not all of his businesses lead to success. Trump University is closed.

Why did it end? “Well, the economy crashed,” said Trump’s attorney Alan Garten. “The real estate market crashed and demand fell off a little bit.”

Garten is defending the school from three separate lawsuits — two class-action lawsuits filed in California, and one filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. It’s one of the California cases Trump has been named as a witness.

Pre-trial motions will be in May, with a trial date set for August.

All three cases are similar. Schneiderman filed his in 2013, then went on CNN to explain it.

“It was a classic bait-and-switch scheme,” he said. “It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university. They promised they were going to teach people with hand-picked experts by Donald Trump. The teachers were neither hand-picked nor experts.”

Garten, however, claims Trump “was very involved. From the early stages, he was meeting regularly every week, every two weeks with the people who were going to run the day-to-day operations of the course.”

Schneiderman provided CNN with six of the 150 affidavits he says he’s collected from unsatisfied Trump University students who mostly complain their education at the school was worthless. Those suing claimed they were promised the tools and strategies and mentoring it would take to make them successful in real estate.

In reality, they claim they learned not much at all. One student wrote “I have not been able to get in touch with anyone after I signed up for the Trump Gold Elite Program.”

Another student who paid $25,000 to have special access to high-level mentors claims he hasn’t been able to get touch with his “non-existent power team.”

“There’s at least 10,000 people who paid,” said Garten, “so you can go and pick three or four affidavits from people, or maybe 20 affidavits, or maybe 30 affidavits. It’s still a miniscule amount. I have in my bag and I’m happy to read to you all the people who loved the course.”

And he did, providing CNN with 14 affidavits from satisfied students.

Garten says Trump will continue to fight all three lawsuits until he eventually wins, even if legal fees wipe out any profit he may have made.


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