NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Billionaire Donald Trump is not letting up in his attack against New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Schneiderman filed a $40 million lawsuit against Trump Saturday, claiming Trump University promised to make students rich but steered them into expensive and mostly useless seminars.
Trump took to television and Twitter on Monday morning after claiming Schneiderman is a “lightweight” trying to “extort” him.
CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell spoke to a former student who claims he was duped when he went to learn more about the real estate business.
“When I heard he was starting Trump University to help little guys like me succeed like billionaires like him, I figured, hey – this is a really good deal,” Bob Guillo said. “I’m going to go and listen to what they have to say.”
Guillo, who lives in Manhasset, first signed up for the university’s $1,500 three-day workshop in 2009. The workshop is taught by instructors who were supposedly hand-picked by Trump himself.
“[The instructor] was in the front of the room, flashing his Rolex. He wore a very expensive shirt, tie, suit… he looked like the epitome of success,” Guillo said.
Organizers convinced students to join Trump’s “Gold Elite” program, Guillo said. The program required a $35,000 entrance fee. Guillo signed up, but soon learned Trump University wasn’t even licensed by the state.
“I knew at that point that all these people were phonies, and they were just scamming us,” Guillo said.
“This was a fraud. A classic bait and switch scheme,” Schneiderman said when filing the suit.
Schneiderman is suing Trump on behalf of Guillo and 5,000 others he claims Trump duped through his so-called school between 2005-2011, Burrell reported.
“Some of [the victims] went into debt,” Schneiderman said. “Some of them spent all of their life savings to get this essentially useless set of information.”
Trump defended the program Monday, speaking by phone to CBS 2.
“People loved the school. The school was terrific,” he said. “If you go to Harvard, they don’t have a 98 percent approval rating, We had a 98 percent approval rating.”
In addition, Trump has taken taking to Twitter, firing back at the Attorney General:
Trump also appeared on various Monday morning television shows calling Schneiderman a hack, and rolled out a website to defend Trump University.
The website says Trump University has a 98 percent approval rating and accuses Schneiderman of “wasting millions in taxpayer money going after (the university).”
The website also claimed only 4 percent of New York state registered voters rated Schneiderman’s performance as “excellent,” and linked to three New York Post articles in which sources or columnists characterized Schneiderman as “dirty” or as a “Democratic hit man.”
“The attorney general has been angry because he felt that Mr. Trump and his various companies should have done much more for him in terms of fundraising,” attorney Michael D. Cohen said. “This entire investigation is politically motivated and it is a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money.”
But Schneiderman said the TV interviews and other comments are merely an attempt to distract the public from his fraud case.
Guillo showed Burrell the literature students were given as part of the program. In order to get a completion certificate, Guillo said students were urged to give the program high approval ratings. That’s why Trump’s students gave the program a 98 percent review rating, Guillo said.
“I got Trumped by Trump,” Guillo said.
Guillo hopes the lawsuit will eventually result in him recouping his money. For many others who used their life’s savings to join, it may not happen soon enough, Burrell reported.
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