Donald Trump may be getting his very own Benghazi-gate in the run-up to the general election. Now that the real estate mogul has clinched the Republican nomination, it seems more scrutiny will be applied in two class-action cases brought against his defunct real estate education program. And the public will get to rule on the matter too: A judge ruled that internal documents from Trump University — which are evidence in the case — should be released to the general public.
The documents in question include "playbooks," internal documents focused on the running of the program. They detail how the overall business venture worked, how Trump University events were run, and — most importantly — how sales personnel were instructed to sell the expensive real estate education program to customers — or students, as Trump would surely prefer. The order requires they be released by Thursday.
Trump University was in business from 2005 to 2010, teaching 10,000 students from across the nation about real estate. Courses ranged from $1,495 for three-day seminars to $35,000 "Gold Elite" packages that included personal mentoring, field trips and, "access to the expertise that made Trump a billionaire." Some students are now arguing they didn't get what they paid for, which Trump and the university adamantly deny.
The Washington Post, the first paper to report on the ruling Saturday, asked the courts to open the documents. Trump's lawyers fought the request, arguing that the documents included industry trade secrets. U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego did not agree. He ruled Friday that since the court proceedings began, Trump "became the front-runner in the Republican nomination in the 2016 presidential race, and has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue."
Trump continued to question the integrity of the proceedings Friday. At a rally in San Diego, he called Curiel a "hater":
The trial is going to take place sometime in November. There should be no trial. This should have been dismissed on summary judgment easily, everybody says it. But I have judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He's a hater.
...I could have settled this case many times, but I don't want to settle cases when we are right. I don't believe in it. And when you start settling cases, you know what happens? Everybody sues you because you get known as settler. One thing about me, I am not known as a settler.
But, wait, it gets worse! Trump even emphasized Curiel's ethnicity when discussing the judge's order: "The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that's fine," Trump told the crowd.
The lawsuit over which Curiel is presiding is not the only one against Trump University. There is another suit pending in San Diego, also being overseen by Curiel, and in 2013 a $40 million lawsuit was filed by the State of New York claiming more than 5,000 people had been defrauded.