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Trump settles Trump University lawsuits for $25m

BBC- Donald Trump listens as Michael Sexton speaks at the launch of the Trump University investment school in 2005Image copyrightAPImage caption

Donald Trump listens as Michael Sexton speaks at the launch of the Trump University investment school in 2005

Donald Trump has settled three Trump University lawsuits for $25m (£20m), the New York Attorney General has said.

The US president-elect was being sued by former students who paid $35,000 (£28,000) for real estate “secrets” from his “hand-picked” instructors.

Mr Trump had repeatedly said he would not settle the class-action lawsuits.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the settlement was a “stunning reversal” by Mr Trump and a “major victory” for victims.

The businessman faced three fraud lawsuits – which alleged the school misled students and failed to deliver on its promises – in California and New York.

A trial in one of the cases had been due to begin in San Diego on 28 November, although Mr Trump’s lawyers had attempted to delay the case.

Donald Trump’s ongoing lawsuits

During the election campaign, Mr Trump was criticised for saying that the California judge hearing the case could not be impartial because he is of Mexican heritage.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement: “Today’s $25 million [£20m] settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.

“The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result and I am pleased that their patience – and persistence – will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”

Mr Schneiderman, who Mr Trump has attacked as a “lightweight”, had sought a $40m (£32m) payout from Mr Trump over the university, which closed in 2010.

He called Trump University a “fraud from beginning to end” in July, adding that the organisation used “false promises to prey on desperate people”.

Trump University seminar DVDs on display at the Republican Convention in ClevelandImage copyrightREUTERS
Trump University seminar DVDs on display at the Republican Convention in Cleveland

US District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the two California cases, had been urging both sides to settle out of court.

In June, Mr Trump said: “I will win the Trump University case. I already am, as far as I’m concerned.

“I could settle that case. I could have settled that case. I just choose not to.”

Mr Trump would not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement, a source familiar with the settlement told the BBC earlier on Friday, adding that it is a “180 degree reversal” for the president-elect.

Trump University promised students the opportunity to learn from “hand-picked” teachers, that actually were not chosen by Mr Trump himself.

The closest students ever got to the real estate mogul was having their photo taken beside a cardboard cutout of him, Mr Schneiderman has alleged. He also said that Mr Trump personally pocketed about $5m (£4m) in the “scheme”.

Administration takes shape

Meanwhile, Donald Trump has named more conservative hardliners for key posts, with Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions nominated as attorney general, the country’s top law enforcement office.

Mr Sessions was rejected from becoming a federal judge in 1986 because of alleged racist remarks.

In a statement, Mr Trump called Mr Sessions a “world class legal mind”.

Mike Pompeo will be CIA director and retired Lt Gen Michael Flynn has been made national security adviser. Both men have been vocal critics of the Obama administration.

Donald Trump, right, with US Senator Jeff Sessions at Trump Tower, New York, 7 October 2016Image copyrightREUTERS

Jeff Sessions, left, is an enthusiastic backer of Mr Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border
Retired three-star general Michael Flynn will be national security adviser, according to insiders AFP Photo

Gen Flynn, who was ousted as director of the Defence Intelligence Agency in 2014, agrees with Mr Trump on renegotiating the Iran nuclear deal, strengthening ties with Russia and intensifying the fight against Islamic extremists.

Mr Pompeo has also been a fierce critic of President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, tweeting on Thursday: “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”

Mr Trump’s Vice President-elect Mike Pence was reportedly booed on Friday as he attended a showing of the hit musical Hamilton in New York.

“At Hamilton. Mike Pence is here and the entire theater just booed him,” wrote one theatregoer on Twitter.

“Unreal scene here – Mike Pence walks in and there’s a massive mix of cheers and boos,” wrote another.

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