Real estate mogul turned reality TV star and university chairman, Donald Trump, was sued for $40 million on Aug. 24 amid claims that he was complicit in running a fake Trump University “that promised to make students rich but instead steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars, and even failed to deliver promised apprenticeships.”
Schneiderman said that students paid as much as $35,000 thinking that they’d get to meet “The Apprentice” reality TV star, but “instead all they got was their picture taken in front of a life-size picture” of the Donald.
"Trump University engaged in deception at every stage of consumers' advancement through costly programs and caused real financial harm," Schneiderman said.
"Trump University, with Donald Trump's knowledge and participation, relied on Trump's name recognition and celebrity status to take advantage of consumers who believed in the Trump brand."
Die-hard Republican Donald Trump responded that Schneiderman’s lawsuit was groundless and “politically motivated.” AG Eric Schneiderman is a Democrat.
The attorney for Donald Trump, Michael D. Cohen, said that the lawsuit was loaded with misinformation, and that neither Donald nor Trump University was guilty of any fraud.
"The attorney general has been angry because he felt that Mr. Trump and his various companies should have done much more for him in terms of fundraising," Cohen said.
"This entire investigation is politically motivated and it is a tremendous waste of taxpayers' money."
Cohen went on to say that Trump University forwarded nearly 11,000 positive student testimonials to the attorney general. The testimonials praised the programs at Trump University, with 98 percent of students in a recent survey referring to university programs as "excellent."
"Donald Trump will not sit back and be extorted by anyone, including the attorney general," Cohen said.
Named in Schneiderman’s lawsuit is the program itself, Donald Trump as chairman of the university, and former Trump University president.
The lawsuit claims “persistent fraud, illegal and deceptive conduct and violating federal consumer protection law.”
The N.Y. State Education Department, after determining that Trump University wasn’t licensed or met the legal definitions for a university, ordered Trump to change the name of Trump University a few years back.
In 2011 it was renamed the Trump Entrepreneur Institute, but it has been dogged since by complaints from consumers and a few isolated civil lawsuits claiming it didn't fulfill its advertised claims.
Schniederman said that proceeds from the $40 million lawsuit against Donald Trump would be used mostly to pay for consumer restitution.
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