Trump Flip-Flops on Clintons in Lawsuit

     SAN DIEGO (CN) – While much of the nation’s attention remains focused on comments Donald Trump made about a federal judge, the recent filing of a deposition transcript sheds light on the presidential candidate’s involvement in issues surrounding the high-profile Trump University court case. A set of video clips from the deposition were also lodged in federal court on Wednesday.
     Documents released in the Trump University case contain a lengthy deposition from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, in which he defends the business practices of his now-defunct university and addresses his previous endorsements of Hillary Clinton — his likely opponent in the race for president of the United States.
     The case, Cohen v. Trump, is a class action lawsuit brought by a group of plaintiffs who claim the so-called university was a swindle using the color of an educational institution to trick prospective students into forking over thousands of dollars to attend seminars at hotels around the country.
     The seminars were more focused on encouraging attendees to spend even more money on upgrade packages than on dispensing material of any educational value, the plaintiffs claim.
     The case is a civil RICO case, which contains accusations of racketeering and sustained corruption and also means the plaintiffs are entitled to damages and attorney’s fees that can be tripled should they prevail.
     Central to the case against Donald Trump in particular, are the assertions made by the university that Trump himself “hand-picked” the instructors for the classes.
     The lengthy deposition was conducted by Jason Forge, attorney for the plaintiffs, and was taken on two separate occasions, once in New York in December and again in January in Las Vegas.
     The deposition is riddled with redactions and, in many instances, Trump explains a rather crucial piece of his involvement with the university’s operation before the document inexplicably cuts off and jumps several pages to a new subject.
     Nevertheless, the deposition contains significant testimony from the Republican presumptive nominee.
     In it, Trump appears to distance himself from the day-to-day running of the university, saying he delegated much of the hiring and administration of the operation to former Trump University president Michael Sexton.
     “I would see some resumes, but I told him, you know, I want very good people,” Trump said during the deposition.
     Trump’s statement contradicts a statement provided by Sexton during a deposition stating Trump had no personal involvement with the hires and did not look at resumes for potential instructors or so-called mentors.
     Mentors were often employed by the university to take attendees on tours of the local real estate market while dispensing particular advice purportedly unique to Trump’s approach to real estate. The mentorship cost an additional $35,000 on top of the $1,500 an individual had to pay to gain entrance to the three-day seminars.
     Trump was shown video of the tour lead plaintiff Art Cohen participated in with an unnamed mentor and reacted unfavorably, according to the deposition.
     “Frankly, I think he probably, just by the way he had answered a couple of the questions reminded me of ‘Saturday Night Live,'” Trump tells his interrogator of the mentor’s performance. “But I think he probably embellished his record to the people that did the hiring.”
     Later in the deposition, Trump said he didn’t personally interview instructors or mentors for the school because he was running other aspects of his business empire and “it didn’t seem necessary because I thought the school was doing well.”
     Trump’s lawyers argued in a motion for summary judgment filed in April that his non-involvement with the selection instructors and mentors is not fatal to the case because “references to ‘secrets’ ‘hand-picked’ instructors, and ‘university’ are classic examples of sales puffery common to advertising everywhere.”
     Trump said incompetent people slip through the cracks in all businesses but the lion’s share of his instructors were good people and that at any rate, customers were given materials with valuable information.
     Further along in the deposition, Forge asks Trump about his formerly positive positions regarding Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, pointing to a blog post Trump published on Dec. 2, 2008.
     “The fourth paragraph you wrote of Hillary Clinton: ‘Hillary is smart, tough and a very nice person and so is her husband.’ Forge says in the deposition. “And then you wrote, “Bill Clinton was a great president.'”
     “Did you believe that sentiment when you wrote it in this blog?” Forge asks.
     Trump answered by saying, “it was a long time ago.”
     “I mean, at the time I mean, I was fine with it at the time,” Trump said. “I think in retrospect, looking back, it was not a great presidency because of his scandals.”
     Forge further presses Trump about comments made in a March 13, 2008, blog post, where he said Hillary Clinton “would make a great president or vice president.”
     Trump said he made those comments when he was still in business, when it was important to maintain good relationships with all politicians, and before he entered the political arena and began to make closer inspections of politicians’ policies and character.
     “As a businessman, I think it was something I never really gave much thought to,” he said. “Now that I see what she’s done and how she’s handled herself and how she’s handled her emails and all of the problems that she’s got, I would say she wouldn’t make a very good vice president or president.”
     Due to redactions, it is unclear where the discussion leads or how Trump’s previous comments about the Clintons versus his current stance relate to the case.
     Forge did not return an email requesting comment on his line of questioning Wednesday. An email requesting comment was also sent to Trump’s communication director, Hope Hicks, but was not returned by press time.

%d bloggers like this: