A New York judge decided Tuesday that a fraud case against Donald Trump over his former school for real estate investors will go to trial – raising the possibility that the Republican presidential primary front-runner could testify during campaign season.
New York County Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern made the decision at a hearing Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether the case will be weighed at a jury trial – which is what Trump’s team is seeking. Trump attorney Jeffrey Goldman said it’s possible the trial could be held this fall, and Trump could testify.
In the case, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, has accused Trump and others of misleading thousands of students over the school.
Schneiderman alleges that Trump University was unlicensed since it began operating in 2005 and promised lessons with real estate experts hand-picked by Trump, only one of whom had ever met him. The attorney general said the school used "bait-and-switch" tactics, inducing students to enroll in increasingly expensive seminars.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He has said it was "a terrific school" with 98 percent approval ratings by its students.
Schneiderman had sued Trump and the school, which changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative before it closed in 2010, for $40 million. The lawsuit seeks restitution and damages for more than 5,000 students nationwide, including 600 New Yorkers, who paid up to $35,000 each.
A New York court earlier had refused to throw out the fraud lawsuit.
Trump filed complaints with the state's ethics commission in 2013, four months after the lawsuit was filed, alleging Schneiderman pursued it to wring out campaign contributions from Trump's daughter Ivanka. The commission dropped the complaint after a review. Schneiderman denied it, and his campaign returned the $500 donation Ivanka Trump had made in 2012.
Trump's fellow Republican candidates have attacked him over litigation against the school, including a class-action suit in California. Trump criticized the judge in that case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.