The Trump Files: Donald Couldn’t Name Any of His “Handpicked” Trump U Professors

Ivylise Simones

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Until the election, we’re bringing you “The Trump Files,” a daily dose of telling episodes, strange but true stories, or curious scenes from the life of GOP nominee Donald Trump.

“We’re going to have professors and adjunct professors that are absolutely terrific,” Donald Trump once promised potential students at the now-defunct Trump University in a marketing video. “Terrific people. Terrific brains. Successful.” And to reassure them, he made a promise: “These are all people that are handpicked by me.”

Not quite.

Trump University has been sued for illegal business practices, fraud, and racketeering three times, once by the state of New York and twice by former students in federal courts in California. The school was also investigated and then ceased operations in Texas, where a state regulator claims the probe was dropped for “political reasons”—Trump later gave $35,000 to the gubernatorial campaign of Greg Abbott, who was the Texas attorney general during the Trump University investigation. And it turned out that the “terrific” instructors at Trump University turned out to be mostly high-pressure salesmen who pushed attendees to purchase $35,000 Trump University courses, even if it meant calling their banks for a credit limit raise on the spot. The professorial ranks included people with no real estate experience and even a convicted felon. Donald Trump knew none of them.

As investigative reporter David Cay Johnston wrote in his new book, The Making of Donald Trump, Trump admitted during legal proceedings that his claims to have handpicked the faculty were false.

In 2012, when Trump was sued for civil fraud in California, attorney Rachel Jensen read the names of one faculty member after another, displayed photographs of them, and offered video footage of faculty at Trump University “live events.” Trump, who complained that this line of questioning was a waste of time, could not identify a single person. “Too many years ago…too many years ago…it’s ancient history,” he said. Some of these events had taken place fewer than two years earlier.

Jensen finally asked Trump if he could name a single Trump University “live events” instructor. “I don’t know the instructors,” he replied.

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It’s really that simple. But if you’d like to read a bit more, our membership lead, Brian Hiatt, has a post for you highlighting some of our newsroom's impressive, impactful work of late—including two big investigations in just one day and covering voting rights the way it needs to be done—that we hope you’ll agree is worth supporting.

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