WASHINGTON – Donald Trump, the real estate investor turned reality television boss and business school operator, told Fox News Monday that he believes he is being politically targeted by New York’s attorney general in a $40 million lawsuit that claims Trump University routinely scammed students.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing Trump’s for-profit investment school, Trump University, claiming the school operated an “elaborate bait-and-switch” operation that swindled students out of thousands of dollars while falling short of promises and services it claimed to offer.
In the lawsuit filed Saturday, the New York attorney general’s office also claims that Trump’s “university” operated as an unlicensed educational institution for six years.
“It’s really an unfair situation,” Trump told Fox News. “We have this wonderful school, they do a great job and then you have this Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who really is a lightweight. He’s not respected.”
Trump also claims Schneiderman is picking on him to gin up publicity for himself and his future political aspirations.
Trump, who has donated to Schneiderman’s political campaigns in the past, also believes Schneiderman and President Obama are working together to bring him down.
“What government in the history of this country has ever brought a lawsuit on a Saturday?” Trump asked. “I have never heard such a thing. So he meets with the president Thursday night and he sues me on Saturday. It was a terribly drawn suit, an incompetently drawn suit and they did it very quickly. Probably Obama (inaudible). Maybe this is a mini-IRS. Maybe we need to get the Tea Party after these people because this could maybe be a mini-IRS.”
Trump says it would have been easier to settle the suitm but that he chose not to and that he is considering filing a countersuit against the state.
Schneiderman’s office began investigating Trump University in May 2011 after dozens of people had complained to authorities in New York, Texas, Florida and Illinois about the school, which promised a free 90-minute seminar about real estate investing that served as a pitch for a seminar that cost $1,495.
Those attending the seminar were then pitched a “Trump Elite” package that promised personal mentorship programs costing $35,000, the lawsuit alleges.
“I was very much involved with the school from the standpoint that I could see its instructors, I talked to the instructors, I talked to people. I worked very hard with the people who run the school,” Trump said. “Obviously it’s not my main business.”
Trump added that he “would have given the profits to charity, if there were any.”