Trump Wants to Exclude Campaign Statements From Fraud Trialby
Lawsuit over Trump University scheduled to begin Nov. 28
Speeches, tweets ‘irrelevant,’ lawyers for Trump argue
Donald Trump doesn’t want to be judged by statements he makes as the Republican presidential nominee, at least not by jurors who are set to decide next month whether he defrauded hundreds of students through his namesake real-estate school.
Trump seeks to exclude evidence about his campaign such as speeches, tweets and statements made at rallies and debates – including comments about the case itself and the judge presiding over the trial in San Diego, Gonzalo Curiel. Curiel’s Mexican heritage earlier prompted Trump to say that negative rulings in the case were retribution for his pledge to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The lawsuit, filed by former students from California, Florida and New York, accuses Trump University of cheating them into paying as much as $35,000 for real-estate investment seminars. The classes turned out to be “infomercials” pitching more classes, according to the complaint. Lawyers for Trump have argued that sales pitches touting “secrets” and “hand-picked instructors” were solely for advertising and can’t be used to claim fraud.
“Before trial begins in this case, prospective members of the jury will have the opportunity to cast their vote for president,” Trump’s lawyers said Thursday in a court filing. “It is in the ballot box where they are free to judge Mr. Trump based on all this and more.”
The attorneys go on to argue that Trump’s statements on the campaign trail are irrelevant to the case and “highly prejudicial,” and would only seek to “inflame the jury.”
“It is the court’s duty to protect the integrity of the judicial process and defendants’ right to a fair trial,” they wrote.
Attorneys for the former students didn’t immediately respond, on Friday, to requests for comment on the filing. The trial set for Nov. 28 is one of two class actions over the allegations. Curiel scheduled the trial so the case could be decided after the presidential election but before a possible inauguration.
The case is Low v. Trump University LLC, 10-cv-00940, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).