Testimony from former managers revealed on Tuesday that the for-profit school founded by Donald Trump is largely an underhanded and exploitative scheme. According to their testimony, the school relied on high-pressure sales tactics and deceptive claims to entice students to spend tens of thousands of dollars all while employing unqualified instructors.
Ronald Schnackenberg, a sales manager for Trump University, recalled being rebuked for not pushing a financially-pressed couple to enroll in a $35,000 real estate class they could not afford. He wrote in his testimony:
“I believe that Trump University was a fraudulent scheme, and that it preyed upon the elderly and uneducated to separate them from their money.”
The release of the testimony documents under court order was the latest development in a federal lawsuit which was filed by unhappy former students of Trump University. The lawsuit has hounded Trump since 2012 and could potentially follow him into the White House, if he is elected.
I should have easily won the Trump University case on summary judgement but have a judge, Gonzalo Curiel, who is totally biased against me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2016
Trump, who started the university in 2005, owned 93 percent of the since failed company. He sold it as a financial empowerment tool, all while having staff encourage those who could not afford it to open as many credit cards as possible to pay for the classes. These supposedly expertly-taught classes which Donald Trump himself would be “actively involved” in, proved to be anything but. According to the testimony of Jason Nicholas, a sales executive at Trump University, Trump was not involved at all and his instructors were largely unqualified.
“They were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump’s ‘right-hand men.’ They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a façade, a total lie.”
Dozens of complaints about Trump University have been made in Florida, Texas, New York, and Illinois, leading to multiple investigations and the eventual California lawsuit. Trump fought the release of these documents and attempted to discredit the Indiana-born judge, Gonzalo P. Curiel, by calling him a “hater of Donald Trump” and reminding everyone that he is of Mexican descent.
— Richard Lui MSNBC (@RichardLui) May 30, 2016
Ultimately, the internal guidebooks and sales scripts for Trump University urged employees to prey on the psychological weaknesses of potential customers to get them to buy at any cost. While not all of the documents released Tuesday cast the university in a bad light, and some students claimed to have learned a lot from it, the testimonies from many of the former employees, as well as the internal literature of Trump University, paint an overwhelmingly negative picture.
Watch a CNN report on Trump University featuring alleged victim Felicisimo Limon: