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Tuesday, July 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Trump U Students Call|Election Fodder Fair Game

SAN DIEGO (CN) — Former Trump University students suing Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump say things he's said and have been said about him on the campaign trail should be fair game during a class action trial later this month.

In an opposition to Trump's motion to exclude election fodder filed Tuesday, Sonny Low and the other plaintiffs say Trump's request demands "the court create a new category of immunity to protect him from himself."

The class sued Trump in 2010, claiming he defrauded Trump University students with a "get rich quick" scheme that was supposed to teach real estate secrets to those hoping to cash in on the foreclosure crisis. Some students paid upwards of $35,000 for advice they claim was little more than an infomercial.

In the final countdown to the post-election trial, both parties filed a host of documents on Oct. 20 detailing evidence they'd like U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel to exclude from trial. Most notably, Trump wants everything he said or has been said about him during his presidential stump — including things he's said about the case, plaintiffs and judge — from being allowed as evidence. The candidate claims he will be prejudiced if evidence that "has nothing to do with the trial" but everything to do with the election is allowed by Curiel.

But the plaintiffs say Trump wants to "rig" the trial by "hiding the jury from his own words." They say no court has provided the kind of "blanket immunity" Trump wants, simply because the comments he's made are "so numerous Trump does not even try to identify them all."

The plaintiffs want Curiel to deny Trump's blanket order, saying the candidate "has only himself to blame." Trump's motion should be denied outright for vagueness, since it is "practically boundless" and does not specify what evidence Trump and his legal team want to exclude, they add.

"By casting such an overbroad net, defendants hope to ensnare even admissible evidence with a sweeping ruling that would inflict maximum collateral damage on plaintiffs' ability to put on their case-in-chief, impeach witnesses or rebut evidence," according to the opposition.

Because Trump is an individual defendant in the case and it's primarily about his conduct related to Trump University, what he's said and has been said about him the past 1 ½ years should not be excluded by a blanket order, the plaintiffs say.

"As they have demonstrated throughout this litigation, plaintiffs have no desire to politicize this case. On the other hand, Trump has repeatedly done so," the class says

They add they should not have to do Trump's work "for him" by trying to identify what he wants excluded.

"He chose not to identify a single statement he wishes to exclude, and neither the court nor the plaintiffs should attempt to fill in this gigantic blank by identifying examples of inadmissible and admissible statements," the class says.

Among the list of vague topics Trump seeks to exclude is information related to his other business ventures — including Trump Organization, which the plaintiffs say was interconnected with Trump University. Trump also wants to exclude statements made by politicians or public servants, including a finding by the New York State Education Department that Trump University unlawfully called itself a "university."

The class claims the evidence is not unfairly prejudicial, but could be harmful to Trump's defense. They even point to a "Saturday Night Live" sketch where actor Alec Baldwin, playing Trump, said the election was rigged by "taking all of the things I say, and all of the things I do, and putting them on TV."

According to the class, "Simply because evidence tends to undercut Trump's defense or ability to appear as a credible witness cannot warrant its exclusion."

Without specifics, the plaintiffs say the court has no "way of sensibly ruling" on Trump's motion to exclude other than to deny it.

A hearing on the motions to exclude evidence is scheduled for Nov. 10.

The trial kicks off Nov. 28.

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