Glossed over in last night’s Acela primary coverage was the fact that yesterday a state judge also ruled a fraud lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Donald Trump that his Trump “University” will go to trial, poised to put Republicans in the unthinkable, singular scenario that a Republican presidential front-runner would have to take the stand as early as this fall. Trump is charged with fleecing unsuspecting Trump “University” students of some $40 million.
The attorney general’s suit alleges that Trump “University” used Trump’s celebrity status to convince students to enroll in pricey classes that didn’t measure up to their glowing advertisements, defrauding more than 5,000 students in New York. Each victim allegedly lost thousands of dollars apiece, with the “real estate school” without proper licensing charging students up to $35,000 apiece to enroll. The same New York judge ruled in 2014 that Trump “University” failed to obtain licenses, holding Trump personally liable.
An additional lawsuit in California filed against Trump in 2010 by former students alleges that Trump “University” conned students nationwide with phony guarantees promising certain financial achievements.
Cruz: Maybe not a good idea to have a Republican nominee on trial for fraud this summer, as Trump will be over his scam university.
— Ramesh Ponnuru (@RameshPonnuru) February 26, 2016
Though Trump has adamantly denied the lawsuits’ allegations, it is deeply troubling that these persistent legal clouds hover over a man who appears to be making similar grandiose, fraudulent promises to voters. During last night’s press conference following the Acela primary, Trump was briefly asked about yesterday’s ruling, which he immediately brushed aside as a mere “civil” action, as though because it’s not a criminal prosecution it’s not valid. Yet these are serious, troubling cases that reveal much about the billionaire playboy’s regard for everyday Americans. It’s fitting with a man who attempted to bulldoze the home of an elderly widow to build a limousine parking lot.
Voters are understandably frustrated with economic stagnation under the current administration, which has ballooned our national debt, weakened America’s national security and layered on job-stifling regulations. Democrats are divided, with a bitter civil war between Hillary Clinton and resurgent Bernie Sanders. It would be unwise for Republicans looking to nominate a small-government conservative to allow their chance of regaining the White House to slip away at the hands of a candidate with such allegations swirling around him.