President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly bragged he never settles lawsuits despite a long history of doing so, has agreed to a $25 million settlement to end the fraud cases pending against his defunct real estate seminar program, Trump University.
The settlement eliminates the possibility that Trump will be called to testify in court in the midst of his presidential transition. It ends three separate lawsuits that made claims against Trump University, including a California class action case that was scheduled to go to trial later this month, as well as a second suit in that state and an action filed by New York Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman.
In a statement, Trump Organization General Counsel Alan Garten said he believed Trump would have prevailed at trial but settled so Trump could “devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation” during his presidential transition.
Schneiderman, who had faced harsh attacks from Trump since filing the 2013 suit, said in a statement that his office had sued Trump for “swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars” and that the settlement had come despite significant resistance from Trump for years.
“Today, that all changes,” he said. “Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.”
He said the settlement includes a $1 million penalty paid to New York state for violating the state’s education laws by calling the program a “university” despite offering no degrees or traditional education. Trump did not, however, admit fault regarding the claims that customers were cheated.
A lawyer representing former customers in the two California cases also confirmed the settlement at a hearing in San Diego.
The Trump University settlement appears to fit a pattern in which lawyers for the president-elect are working to reduce the number of his legal entanglements before he takes office.
On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers dropped an unrelated lawsuit he was pursuing in Florida against Palm Beach County in which he had complained about commercial air traffic over his Mar-a-Lago estate.