A federal judge on Friday will consider arguments on President-elect Donald Trump’s latest request to delay a civil fraud trial involving his now-defunct Trump University until after his inauguration on Jan. 20.
That is, if the case isn’t settled first. The New York Daily News has learned that Trump is now reportedly nearing a settlement for up to $25 million over the university lawsuits brought against him in New York and California. A spokesperson for the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told the Daily News that the attorney general “has always been open to a settlement that fairly compensates the many victims of Trump University who have been waiting years for a resolution.”
Trump’s attorneys said in a court filing last week that preparations for the White House were “critical and all-consuming.” Six months ago, when they unsuccessfully sought a delay until after Inauguration Day, lead attorney Daniel Petrocelli said the period between the election and swearing-in is extremely hectic for a president-elect but that it was preferable to a trial during the campaign.
“The task is momentous, exceedingly complex, and requires careful coordination involving the respective staffs and teams of both President (Barack) Obama and President-Elect Trump,” Trump’s attorneys wrote. “In fewer than three months, the President-Elect must be prepared to manage 15 executive departments, more than 100 federal agencies, 2 million civilian employees, and a budget of almost $4 trillion.”
Trump’s attorneys had also raised the prospect of having the president-elect testify by video recording before the trial begins in the class-action lawsuit in San Diego on Nov. 28.
U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel is eager to get the 6½-year-old case to trial and gave no sign that he was inclined to grant a delay during a hearing last week in which Petrocelli argued that demands of the transition justified putting it off until early next year.
Now, Trump may want to skip right to a settlement, according to the Daily News report. This is a complete change from the comments the president-elect made during a segment of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” back in March. Trump said he didn’t want to settle the cases because “I don’t settle cases, I win in court.”
The former students allege that Trump University failed to deliver on its promise to teach success in real estate through programs that cost up to $35,000, misleading them by calling it a university when it wasn’t an accredited school and by saying that Trump “hand-picked” instructors. Trump has strongly denied the claims.
Plaintiff attorneys oppose a delay, saying that one of three lead plaintiffs, Sonny Low, has medical issues and will be 75 years old when the trial begins. The say a delay would be “a slippery slope” because Trump’s schedule will become more complicated and unpredictable.
“This trial, like so many Trump University student-victims’ credit-card bills, is past due,” they wrote in a court filing.
This article has been updated to reflect the reported settlement amount.