New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he will not be deterred in pursuing the state’s case against Donald Trump and Trump University just because the defendant is campaigning to be president of the United States.
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“We’re ready to go,” Schneiderman, a Democrat, told ABC News today. “We sued him long before anyone thought he might run for president. This is not a political case. It’s just a straight-up fraud case.”
The New York state case against Trump University, brought in 2013, is proceeding at the same time as a federal lawsuit unfolds in California, both with essentially the same set of allegations: that the real estate seminars marketed by the famous mogul cheated the people who paid thousands of dollars to attend. As became clear today, the cases are unfolding in a highly unusual climate for a civil cases.
Earlier in the year, during the Republican primary debates, the Trump University controversy became an attack line against Trump. The case surged back into public view on Friday, when U.S. District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel in California ruled that confidential documents about the operation of Trump University should be made public, in part because Trump’s presidential candidacy means “the public interest is heightened in this case.”
Trump interrupted his remarks at a San Diego campaign rally to blast Curiel for ruling against him.
“I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself,” Trump said. “I’m telling you, this court system, judges in this court system, federal court, they ought to look into Judge Curiel. Because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace.”
Today the court released the documents, some of which laid bare tactics, strategies and sales scripts used by Trump University staffers to persuade prospective students to spend thousands of dollars on the seminars. The newly public documents dominated much of the campaign news cycle. Trump held another press conference to address questions about the case, along with other issues swirling around his campaign.
He repeated his view that he “will win the Trump University case.”
“I already am, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Schneiderman told ABC News that he is not worrying about the confluence of the campaign and his case. The documents, he said, only served to offer further proof that the operation was aimed less at teaching students the skills needed to buy and sell real state and more about making money for Trump.
“It was clearly a way to separate people who were desperate to make money in hard economic times from their own cash and to get it into the pocket of Mr. Trump and his cronies,” Schneiderman said.