On Friday, District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel denied President Elect Donald Trump’s motion for a blanket exclusion of evidence of statements Mr. Trump made during the campaign pertaining to In the Trump University fraud and racketeering trial pending in federal court in San Diego.
According to ABC News, Mr. Trump’s lawyers had argued that Trump’s statements are irrelevant and might prejudice a jury. Lawyers for the certified class of Trump University students countered that the evidence is relevant to Mr. Trump’s credibility as a witness.
Judge Curiel ruled that because Mr. Trump had failed to specify what specific statements he wanted to exclude, the Court would rule separately on the admissibility of each offer of proof at trial.
Curiel also ruled that Mr. Trump would be allowed to testify by videotape and need not show up in person. Under this often-used procedure, the camera is generally focused close-up on the witness, as his lawyers elicit direct testimony and his adversaries cross-examine him.
The trial will focus on a 2010 class action lawsuit alleging that Trump University fleeced students with unfulfilled promises to teach them the secrets of success in real estate. Former students accuse the school of charging them up to $35,000 and lying about the value of the lessons they would receive, according to court documents.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who sued Trump University in 2013, has since described Trump University as a “fraud” and a “scam,” according to the publication.
Although the cases are civil proceedings, some legal scholars argue that if a court finds Trump University or even Trump himself liable for fraud, the decision could give Congress grounds to “consider impeachment proceedings,” noted USA Today.
In an Associated Press report on the aggressive tactics of Trump University, a “sales playbook” outlines how employees should guide customers through “the roller coaster of emotions” once they have expressed interest.
“The motivation that they experienced can die quickly as the realities of their daily lives take over. It is our job to rekindle that motivation … to make them once again see the potential of achieving their dream,” the playbook says.
The 2009 document quotes a Yale University study that found the most persuasive words in the English language are: you, new, money, easy, discovery, free, results, health, save, proven, guarantee and love.
“They share three characteristics: they are simple, familiar and dramatic,” the document notes.
“The words ‘I noticed’ have a powerful subconscious effect on people because they send a subliminal message to them that they stood out in the crowd, that they are attractive or charismatic or that they impressed you,” the playbook adds. “People love recognition and attention.”
Trump University’s core customers, according to the AP, were identified in the documents as male heads of households between 40 and 54 years old with annual household incomes of at least $90,000, a college education and a net worth of more than $200,000.
On Thursday, Trump’s attorney, Daniel Petrocelli, told U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel that he wanted to delay the trial, “In view of Mr. Trump’s election as President of the United States, your honor.”
He further added: “His obligations right now are just monumental.”
Judge Curiel responded that while he will entertain a new motion to delay trial until January, he is disinclined to grant it. If the case does not settle, the trial will begin on November 28 with the selection of a jury of nine from a pool of perhaps 100 to 200 potential jurors; that process will likely take a day or two, and then the trial begins.