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 that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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