Trump U Records Unsealed, and It’s Not a Pretty Sight


Those newly unsealed documents in the Trump University case don’t paint a pretty picture of either the “university” or Donald Trump himself:

Jason Nicholas, another witness for the plaintiffs who worked as a sales associate for five months in 2007, also said he was appalled by what went on at the university. “They were unqualified people posing as Donald Trump’s ‘right-hand men,'” he wrote. “They were teaching methods that were unethical, and they had had little to no experience flipping properties or doing real estate deals. It was a facade, a total lie.”

In his sworn declaration, Mr. Schnackenberg [said] he quit his job after refusing to pitch the seminars to a couple that he thought couldn’t afford them. “They had no money to pay for the program but would have had to pay for the program using disability and taking out a loan based upon equity in his apartment.” He said another sales manager “talked them into buying a $35,000 seminar.”

And this:

Donald Trump was personally involved in devising the marketing strategy for Trump University, even vetting potential ads, according to newly disclosed sworn testimony from the company’s top executive taken as part of an ongoing lawsuit…“Mr. Trump understandably is protective of his brand and very protective of his image and how he’s portrayed,” Michael Sexton, Trump University’s president, said in the 2012 deposition. “And he wanted to see how his brand and image were portrayed in Trump University marketing materials. And he had very good and substantive input as well.”

And this:

Corrine Sommer, an event manager, recounted how colleagues encouraged students to open up as many credit cards as possible to pay for classes that many of them could not afford. “It’s O.K., just max out your credit card,” Ms. Sommer recalled their saying.

Ms. Sommer recalled that a member of the Trump University sales team, who had previously sold jewelry, was promoted to become an instructor. He had “no real estate experience,” she said. She added that many of the instructors had the quality that the school seemed to value most: “They were skilled at high-pressure sales,” she said.

In other words, Trump was eager to squeeze every cent he could out of his students but played no role in choosing instructors or creating the curriculum. He cared about his image, but that was it. What a guy.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate