WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York’s attorney general, who has filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump’s education venture, Trump University, slammed the presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Tuesday for his attack on a U.S. district judge’s ethnicity.
Trump, a New York billionaire businessman, is fighting a trio of lawsuits that accuse his education program of misleading thousands of people who paid up to $35,000 for seminars to learn about his real-estate investment strategies.
“This was a fraud from top to bottom. He’s using every trick he can to delay the release of documents, to delay the trials, attacking the judge for his ethnicity, attacking me and accusing me of conspiring with the president of the United States,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, told CNN.
Days after Judge Gonzalo Curiel ordered some documents in one case involving the school to be unsealed, Trump called Curiel “hostile” and “a hater” and said he believed the judge was Mexican.
Curiel is an American who was born in East Chicago, Indiana, and graduated from the Indiana University School of Law.
Schneiderman, re-elected as attorney general in 2014, dismissed a question about Trump’s allegation that Curiel’s ruling was politically motivated, saying that in three individual cases against the university, “every judge has said these are valid fraud claims.”
“He’s taking it to New York’s highest court for one more round of appeals, but no judge has dismissed this,” Schneiderman said.
Asked about Trump’s efforts to downplay the case, Schneiderman called it “hugely important” for the way it cast Trump as “someone who is absolutely shameless in his willingness to lie to people.”
He blasted some of the university’s specific tactics, including the way instructors would persuade students to ask their credit card companies for an increased credit limit as a step toward being successful in real estate, and then persuade them to use it to buy more Trump seminars.
“It was shameless, it was heartless, it’s important information to get out there,” Schneiderman said.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reporting by Megan Cassella; Editing by Peter Cooney