Hundreds of pages of documents in a class-action lawsuit against the now-defunct Trump University were unsealed Tuesday, revealing damning testimony from former employees. Trump, who was chairman of the for-profit school, had called the judge in the case a “hater” and a “Mexican, which is great.”
One Trump University sales manager, Ronald Schnackenberg, testified that he was reprimanded for not trying hard enough to sell Trump University’s $35,000 “Elite” program . “I did not feel it was an appropriate program for them because of their precarious financial condition—they had no money to pay for the program, but would have had to pay for the program using his disability income and taking out a loan based upon equity in his apartment.”
Another salesperson with Trump U talked the couple into it, Schnackenberg testified. “I was disgusted by his conduct and decided to resign.”
“Based upon my personal experience and employment, 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 unsealed documents include both testimony from former employees like Schnackenberg and so-called “Playbooks” that outline Trump University’s business model of constantly and persistently up-selling prospective students. Some of the documents had already been made public in connection with other lawsuits or obtained by media outlets.
“You don’t sell products, benefits or solutions—you sell feelings,” Trump U salespeople were told. Also: “Don’t ask people what they THINK about something you’ve said. Instead, always ask them how they FEEL about it. People buy emotionally and justify it logically.”
I do not believe that Trump University taught Donald Trump’s investing “secrets.” Donald Trump came from a wealthy family and had resources at his disposal to purchase real estate—that is the secret—one that the average consumer could not replicate.
Marketing materials for the school advertised Trump’s direct involvement in classes. “This was not true,” Jason Nicholas, a former sales executive, testified. Trump U, Nicholas said, “was a façade, a total lie.”
The shuttered school currently faces three lawsuits: two class-action suits in California, brought by former students, and one civil suit in New York, brought by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has charged Trump with fraud. Scheiderman has been critical of the real estate developer’s attempts to keep the documents under seal. “You are not allowed to protect the trade secrets of a three card Monte game,” he told Politico.
Trump owned 93 percent of the for-profit university, which he founded in 2005, just as the housing bubble was reaching its zenith. Recently, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign released an ad with audio from a recording Trump made in 2006, to be played for Trump U students, commenting on a potential “bubble burst.”
“I sort of hope that happens because then people like me would go in and buy” property, Trump said, and “make a lot of money.” The presumptive Republican nominee defended his comments last week, saying, “I’m a businessman, that’s what I’m supposed to do....I feel badly for everybody. What am I going to do? I’m in business.”