Now that NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman can pursue a $40 million fraud lawsuit against the former president of Trump University as well as the next President of the United States, we get to learn a little more about the students who say they wasted thousands on the allegedly fake university—and then got strong-armed into giving good feedback for the courses.
Schneiderman contends that Donald Trump and Michael Sexton, who led Trump University, were "engaging in persistent fraudulent, illegal and deceptive conduct in connection with the operation of Trump University. Between 2005 through 2011, Trump University operated as an unlicensed educational institute that promised to teach Donald Trump’s real estate investing techniques to consumers nationwide but instead misled consumers into paying for a series of expensive courses that did not deliver on their promises."
Trump has said, "I could have settled it, I think, pretty easy, I don't like settling cases," in addition to pointing out that 98% of students gave the school satisfactory marks. However, the NY Times spoke to a few students who reminisced about why they gave Trump University that feedback:
Robert Guillo gave a glowing evaluation to his instructor at Trump University because, he said, the teacher pleaded for the best possible score, warning that without it, “Mr. Trump might not invite me back to teach again.”
Jeffrey Tufenkian offered excellent ratings because his Trump University-assigned mentor refused to leave the room until he did so, standing “right in front of me” as he filled out the evaluation form, he said. John Brown tried to give his Trump University teacher a poor review — but said he was talked out of it by employees of the program, who called him three times, hounding him to raise his original scores.
“Tired of the continuing phone calls,” he later testified, “I finally gave in.” His dismal marks changed to top scores, Mr. Brown said.
Guillo spent $36,000 on classes, while Tufenkian took a $35,000 course with his wife.
Tad Lingell, who was a mentor for one of the courses, also told the Times that he "routinely asked students to fill out the evaluations in front of him at restaurants or coffee shops... At that moment, he said, vulnerable students still needed and expected his guidance. 'I want this guy to be my friend, I need his help,' he said, summing up their mind-set as they filled out the forms. Virtually all his students, he said, gave him the top rating of 5. Had they not, his income ($5,500 per student, and later $4,500) could have been in jeopardy."
A plaintiff in another class-action lawsuit against Trump University is trying to drop out; the Chicago Tribune reports, "Her attorneys say Trump and his lawyers have put her 'through the wringer.' Trump called her a 'horrible, horrible witness' at a rally in Arkansas last month. On social media this week, his one-word characterization of her request to withdraw — 'Disgraceful!' — was retweeted more than 3,200 times."