New York: Donald Trump is close to reaching a $20 million settlement to end two class-action lawsuits accusing his Trump University of having been a fraud, a source close to the case said Friday.
An out-of-court deal with students who enrolled in the training program would spare the president-elect from the opening of a trial in California on November 28, although his team has been pushing for a delay on the grounds that he could not interrupt preparations for his inauguration on January 20.
The settlement would also put an end to legal proceedings brought by the attorney general of New York state, Eric Schneiderman.
The six-year-old lawsuit brought by former students alleges that now-defunct Trump University — which was not an accredited college or university — fleeced students by tricking them with aggressive marketing.
Students paid as much as $35,000 to enroll, believing they would make it big in real estate after being taught by experts hand-picked by Trump, the suit says. Trump’s lawyers counter that many students have given the program a thumbs-up and those who failed to succeed have only themselves to blame. The school operated from 2005 to 2011.
Trump has said for some time that he does not fear a trial, insisting it would give him a chance to clear his name. But at a hearing in Los Angeles last week, Trump’s lawyer said he was willing to settle out of court. A spokesman for the New York attorney general indicated he would also find a settlement acceptable.
“As Attorney General Schneiderman has long said, he has always been open to a settlement that fairly compensates the many victims of Trump University who have been waiting years for a resolution,” spokesman Eric Soufer said.
Trump attacked the judge handling the case, Gonzalo Curiel, during his presidential campaign, saying the US-born judge could not be impartial because of his Mexican roots. Trump cited as reasons his campaign promises to build a wall along the US border with Mexico and deport the millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.