WASHINGTON: The now-defunct Trump University has been called a “fraudulent scheme” that “preyed on the elderly” and a “lie” by former executives in court testimonies unsealed on Tuesday.
They narrated a pattern of aggressive marketing focused on selling university products, often less useful than advertised, even to customers who had trouble paying for them.
“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme” which preyed upon the elderly and uneducated, Ronald Schnackenberg, a sales manager, wrote in his testimony.
Corrine Sommer, an event manager, recalled how colleagues pushed customers to use up as many credit cards as needed to pay for the courses. “It’s OK, just max out your credit card,” they said.
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the White House, continues to defend the university, which is embroiled in three different lawsuits in California and New York.
He has argued that he could have settled the cases, but did not want to, and attacked the overseeing judge, who is of Hispanic descent, accusing him of bias.
“This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily, everybody says it. But I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater,” Trump said on Tuesday.
The real estate magnate was attacked over the university during the Republican primaries, but towards the end. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, will be pushing it aggressively.
Her campaign on Wednesday bulk-emailed to supporters the copies of news reports based on the testimonies, and doubled down on them on social media.
A federal court in California unsealed the testimonies, which was opposed by Trump’s lawyers, filed in connection with a federal lawsuit filed by dissatisfied students.
The university, which is a defendant in two other lawsuits — one in California and the other in New York — was started by Trump in 2005, offering courses in entrepreneurship.
He was also the university’s central pitch. Promotional literature promised customers the benefit of Trump’s “experience, knowledge and wisdom” delivered by handpicked instructors.
Trump was less engaged with the institution than advertised — for one, he has said he did not handpick instructors.
According to sales guides issued to Trump University executives, called playbooks, customers were pitched a variety of programmes priced differently during free sessions.
First Published: Jun 02, 2016 07:20 IST