After repeatedly vowing never to settle any lawsuits filed by former Trump University students, President-elect Donald Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle two class-action lawsuits in California and a civil suit filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Although Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi had also considered prosecuting Trump for fraud, Trump only had to contribute $25,000 in support of her reelection campaign in order to avoid further legal action against him.
“In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known at Trump University,” Schneiderman wrote in a statement on Friday. “Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.
“I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result and I am pleased that their patience–and persistence–will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”
At a rally in May, Trump falsely informed his supporters, “I could have settled this case numerous times, but I don’t want to settle cases when we’re right. I don’t believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as a settler. One thing about me, I am not known as a settler.”
The $25 million settlement was reached just days before Trump would have been required to testify in one of the California class-action lawsuits against him. Despite the fact that Trump is not required to admit any wrongdoing, the money will go to former Trump University students who have accused Trump of running a fraudulent school while deceiving students into paying up to $35,000 in fees.
In a statement from August 2013, Schneiderman wrote, “More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch. Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got. No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hard-working New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable.”
Trump ended up paying the IRS a $2,500 penalty this year after the Trump Foundation was caught illegally donating $25,000 to a pro-Bondi group supporting her 2014 reelection and failing to disclose the improper contribution to the IRS. Bondi decided not to prosecute Trump for fraud after her supporters received the political donation from his charity foundation.
Instead of paying another $25 million settlement, Trump only had to pay a $25,000 political contribution to avoid prosecution in Florida.