NEW YORK – Documents released Wednesday in a case accusing Trump University of fraud confirmed the law firm behind the national class-action lawsuit paid Bill and Hillary Clinton a total of $675,000 for speeches.
Some 400 pages of court exhibits were ordered released Friday by a U.S. district judge.
LawNewZ.com reported Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, the San Diego-based law firm with the most lawyers representing plaintiffs in the two currently active class action suits in the Trump University case, in total paid Hillary Clinton $450,000 for two speeches. One was given in September 2013 and the second a year later, in September 2014, in addition to the $225,000 the San Diego law firm paid Bill Clinton for a speech he gave in 2009 before the firm was renamed.
Get a first-hand account of the Democratic presidential front-runner’s character in “Hillary The Other Woman.” Then take action with the Hillary Clinton Investigative Justice Project and let others know, with a bumper sticker calling for “Hillary for prosecution, not president.”
The widely read economics blog ZeroHedge.com also noted that amid the litigation, Patrick Coughlin, one of the Robbins Geller attorneys, maxed out his contributions to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
“Records maintained by the Federal Election Commission indicate that Coughlin has been a longtime financial supporter of both the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton,” ZeroHedge.com noted. “In February, he donated $5,400 to her campaign.”
Related articles (story continues below):
According to court records filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California on Oct. 18, 2013, of the 12 lawyers representing the plaintiff – California businessman Art Cohen in the RICO class action lawsuit Cohen v. Trump – nine are listed as members of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP.
In reporting the speech fees paid the Clintons, LawNewZ.com commented the San Diego-headquartered Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, with 90 attorneys in 10 offices around the country, has been at the forefront of class action litigation for over 20 years. It is noted for winning last year $7.2 million for Enron shareholders as part of a massive federal class action lawsuit.
Trump University court documents made public
Last Friday, Judge Curiel ordered unsealed and available for public view nearly 400 pages of Trump University “playbooks” that described sales techniques and investment strategies taught at the Trump University real estate seminar. Curiel had granted a motion by the Washington Post to release the documents against the objections of legal counsel representing Trump.
Then, on Tuesday evening, Curiel tried to roll back his earlier court order, saying he mistakenly listed some records to be released in full. He said he had intended the records only be released in a redacted form, editing out personal information, including home addresses and personal emails.
LawNewZ.com reported that some of the records initially released to news media are no longer available from the court, including a declaration from former Trump University events manager Corinne Summers that the New York Times posted online.
In her affidavit now available online, Summers, who worked as events manager for Trump University from May 2007 to October 2007, claimed “the focus of Trump University was on making sales rather than providing quality educational services.”
Her affidavit continued:
Trump University would lure customers into the initial free course based on the name and reputation of Donald Trump, and then once they were there, Trump University personnel would try to up-sell customers to the next course using high-pressure sales tactics. Far from providing a “complete real estate education,” as advertised, Trump University personnel only provided enough information to get students to sign up for the next seminar or program. I recall instances in which customers had paid for a class to learn how to make money investing in real estate, ask for more information, and the teacher would say, “if you want to get that, you have to buy the next package.” I don’t remember who said it, but this is the general gist of things.
Summers further asserted Trump University “was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they could possibly buy on credit,” insisting that customers who showed up homeless and could not afford the seminars were encouraged by Trump University representatives “to max out” their credit cards.
She argued that Trump was “not an active presence” at Trump University and “seemed only concerned with Trump University’s revenues and profits.”
Trump has created a website, 98percentapproval.com, publishing student testimonials supporting Trump’s contention that 98 percent of Trump University students rated the program “excellent.” It asserts that all students were offered a three-day money-back guarantee if they were not completely satisfied, countering claims the real estate courses were a fraud.
On March 11, the New York Times published an article by Michael Barbaro and Steve Eder claiming Trump University employees pressured students to obtain favorable reviews.
Barbaro was also the co-author of a New York Times article published May 14 charging Trump with having made “unwelcome romantic advances” on women and characterizing Trump with demonstrating a “shrewd reliance on ambitious women,” exploited through “unsettling workplace conduct.”
Marco Rubio: ‘a fake university’
At the Feb. 25 GOP presidential debate in Houston, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., put the issue on the national agenda by charging that Trump’s school is a “fake university.”
Rubio alleged that students who paid as much as $36,000 to enroll in real estate classes were now suing Trump for using deceptive practices, including overly aggressive marketing techniques that profited Trump millions for unaccredited, high-priced courses promising to teach techniques for getting rich through real estate.
Trump has consistently pushed back, arguing he could easily have settled the case had he chosen to do so. Speaking at a rally in San Diego on May 27, he attacked Judge Curiel as “a hater.”
See Trump’s remarks at the rally:
Trump presses Memorial Day attack on judge
On Memorial Day, Trump posted two messages calling Curiel “unfair” and a politically biased Obama appointee to the federal bench.
On Tuesday, at his Trump Tower press conference disclosing the disbursement of $5.6 million raised for veterans, Trump renewed his attack on Curiel, claiming once again that he would win the case despite the judge being “unfair.”
On Wednesday, the Guardian in London reported the documents released by the court contained an undated “personal message” from Trump to new enrollees at the school: “Only doers get rich. I know that in these three packed days, you will learn everything to make a million dollars within the next 12 months.”
The Guardian reported Curiel, in releasing the documents, had ruled they were in the public interest now that Trump is “the front-runner in the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.”
In his various attacks on Curiel, Trump has claimed the judge is a “hater” and a “total disgrace,” adding that Curiel “is not doing the right thing” and “happens to be, we believe, a Mexican.”
The record shows that at his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 28, 2012, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Curiel was born in East Chicago, Indiana, in 1953, the son of immigrant parents from Mexico. He graduated from Indiana University in 1976 and received his J.D. degree from the Indiana University School of Law three years later, in 1979.
President Obama nominated Curiel to the U.S. District Court in 2011 after Curiel had served as a Superior Court judge in San Diego. For 17 years prior to that, he was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice, where he headed the Narcotics Enforcement Division for the Southern District of California, prosecuting drug smugglers working across the U.S. border with Mexico.
Appearing on CNN on May 30, Trump campaign spokeswoman Katrina Pierson got into a controversial exchange with Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day” program. Pierson pointed out that Curiel had been affiliated with La Raza in San Diego, before asserting that “the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump.”
On his judicial questionnaire archived on the Senate Judiciary Committee website, Curiel listed among the bar associations and legal or judicial-related committees that he was affiliated with La Raza Lawyers of San Diego.
San Diego La Raza Lawyers is a local group affiliated with the California La Raza Lawyers Association. The professional association describes itself as a non-profit association organized in 1977 to support Chicano and Latino lawyers in California that meets quarterly at various locations around the state and represents 16 different local organizations with over 2,000 attorneys.
Curiel orders lawsuits to move forward
On Dec. 10, 2014, Curiel certified Cohen’s complaint as a national class action suit, with the first public hearing scheduled for July 18, the first day of the Republican National Convention.
In February 2014, Curiel certified as a class action lawsuit in California, Florida and New York a companion lawsuit, Tarla Makaeff v. Trump University, filed by Trump University students in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California in 2010, with Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP again representing various plaintiffs.
On May 6, Curiel ruled the jury trial in Tarla Makaeff v. Trump University will be postponed until Nov. 28, 20 days after the Nov. 8 presidential election.
In rescheduling the trial until Nov. 28, Curiel rejected a motion by lawyers representing Trump that the trial should be scheduled next year, long after the Nov. 8 election, to prevent Trump from being distracted by the issue during his presidential election campaign.