Trump Fraud Judge Urged to Allow Campaign Comments at Trial

Updated on
  • Students say Trump wants judge to ‘protect him from himself’
  • Trump seeks bar on statements in tweets, speeches, rallies

Former Trump University students told a judge that they should be allowed to present at a fraud trial statements made by Donald Trump in his presidential campaign.

Trump asked U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego last month to keep out of the trial evidence such as his speeches, tweets and statements at rallies and debates, including comments about the case and the judge. Curiel’s Mexican heritage earlier prompted Trump to say that the judge’s negative rulings were retribution for his pledge to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Trump wants to rig the deck by hiding from the jury his own words,” lawyers for the students said in court papers Tuesday. “Donald Trump’s dizzying array of objectively false, contradictory, and self-defeating statements have left him so flummoxed he is demanding that the court create a new category of immunity to protect him from himself.’’

Former students from California, Florida and New York accused Trump University of conning them into paying as much as $35,000 for real-estate investment seminars. Initial classes turned out to be “infomercials” for additional, more expensive, seminars, according to the complaint. Lawyers for Trump have argued that sales pitches touting “secrets” and “hand-picked instructors” weren’t fraudulent but solely advertising.

Trump said his statements during the Presidential primaries and the general election have no relevance to the university lawsuit.

The students’ lawyers responded that the requested ban on all statements was overly broad.

Trump’s lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, didn’t respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment. A hearing on Trump’s request is set for Nov. 10, two days after the election. 

Ironic, Absurd

Trump’s request is very broad and it isn’t likely the judge will grant it in its entirety, said Christopher Peterson, a law professor at the University of Utah.
“It’s improbable that a federal judge will exclude a defendant’s comments about the case from the case,” Peterson said in a phone interview. “Asking to have those comments excluded strikes me as ironic and absurd.”
The judge may instead, as the trial proceeds, bar the former students from bringing up statements Trump has made that are either irrelevant or prejudicial, Peterson said.

The case is Low v. Trump University LLC, 10-cv-00940, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).

(Updates with law professor’s comment in eighth paragraph.)
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