President-Elect Trump Would Like His Fraud Trial Delayed, Thank You Very Much
"His obligations right now are just monumental."
Lawyers representing President-elect Donald Trump requested on Saturday that a class-action fraud trial over real estate courses at the now defunct Trump University be postponed until after Trump’s inauguration.
The federal trial, which is scheduled to start on Nov. 28, surrounds allegations that the university falsely portrayed itself as an accredited institution, and pressured those registered to spend over $30,000 on courses taught by instructors chosen by Trump himself.
“Now that the election is over, we submit that the President-Elect should not be required to stand trial during the next two months while he prepares to assume the Presidency,” read the motion filed by Trump's lawyers in a San Diego federal court on Saturday evening.
“The time and attention to prepare and testify will take him away from imperative transition work at a critical time. We acknowledge plaintiffs have a right to trial of their claims, but their rights will not be abridged if trial were continued to a date after the inauguration to allow the President-Elect to devote all his time and attention to the transition process.”
In the motion, which also references a “companion lawsuit” that is also set to go to trial at a later date, his lawyers also request that a single videotaped deposition by Trump be used for both trials.
"The single examination ensures that President-Elect Trump is not forced to testify twice," the lawyers wrote. “This balanced approach will allow President-Elect Trump to focus on transitioning to office.”
To buttress their request, the lawyers reference instances where previous presidents have been granted special timing and considerations for a lawsuit — “So As To Not Impede a President’s Public Duties,” the motion states, citing cases involving former President Clinton and Reagan.
The lawyers also cite statutes, additional former cases, and news articles that outline the steps and rigors of a presidential transition.
T.j. Thompson, a real estate agent from Baltimore who enrolled in Trump University, told the Los Angeles Times that she was "upsold" for an "Elite" membership for $35,000.
“I liken it to if I was a 6-foot-6 senior in college and Michael Jordan told me, ‘If you come to my university I can get you in the NBA,’” Thompson told the paper. “We’ve been asking for our money back for five years now.”
At the Democratic National Convention in July, Cheryl Lankford told the audience how she enrolled at Trump University after her husband died in Iraq in 2007 and was a victim of a "scam."
"By conning me out of the money the military gave me after my husband died, I felt like Trump University was dishonoring Jonathan's memory. I was furious, frightened and, the truth is, I was embarrassed," Lankford said.
During a hearing on Thursday in San Diego, Trump’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, mentioned the request for a delay in trial with US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, USA Today reported.
"His obligations right now are just monumental," Petrocelli told the judge.
On the campaign trail and in interviews, Trump questioned Judge Curiel’s fairness in handling the case because of Curiel’s “Mexican heritage.”
“This judge is of Mexican heritage. I’m building a wall, OK? I’m building a wall,” Trump told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
“The judge has been extremely hostile to me. I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I’m very, very strong on the border,” Trump also told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
Trump also called the judge a “hater” and “a disgrace” in interviews and speeches.
It is unclear if Curiel will grant a postponement on the trial, but he urged both parties to reach a settlement on Thursday.