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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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