Donald Trump will testify after the presidential election on a class-action lawsuit that accuses the billionaire businessman and his now-defunct Trump University of defrauding people who paid up to $35,000 for real estate seminars, his attorney said Friday.
A federal judge in San Diego set a Nov. 28 trial, raising the possibility that Trump could take the stand as a president-elect if he wins the White House. The presumptive GOP nominee plans to attend most, if not all, of trial and will take the witness stand, Trump lawyer Daniel Petrocelli said.
Trump’s attorneys resisted the idea of bringing the 6-year-old case to trial while the real estate mogul was in the race, with Petrocelli asking for February trial. Plaintiffs had suggested June.
The lawsuit is one of three that accuse Trump University of fleecing students with unfulfilled promises to teach secrets of success in real estate.
The San Diego suit says Trump University, which no longer operates and was not accredited as a school, gave seminars and classes across the country that were like infomercials, constantly pressuring students to buy more and, in the end, failing to deliver.
Trump, who appears on a list of defense witnesses for the trial, has repeatedly pointed to a 98 percent satisfaction rate on internal surveys. But the lawsuit says students were asked to rate the product when they believed they still had more instruction to come and were reluctant to openly criticize their teachers on surveys that were not anonymous.
Since the early 1980s, Trump personally has been sued at least 150 times in federal court, records show. Only a handful of those cases are pending, with the ones involving Trump University being the most significant.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, an appointee of President Barack Obama, has been eager to schedule a trial in the San Diego case. It was filed in 2010, making it the second-oldest on his docket.
At a hearing late last year, the judge floated the possibility of a June trial and then settled on August as a more likely date. He appeared to have second thoughts by March as Trump surged in the primaries.
Trump’s attorneys have resisted a trial during the campaign.
“This will be a zoo if it were to go to trial,” Petrocelli said at a March hearing.
Trump has railed against the judge, calling him hostile and suggesting his positions in the case may be the result of Trump’s stance on border security. The presumptive GOP nominee has noted the Curiel’s ethnicity.
Trump said of the judge at an Arkansas rally in February: “I believe he happens to be Spanish, which is fine. He’s Hispanic – which is fine.”