Donald Trump went on the offensive Monday, hitting the airwaves to fire back at claims from New York's attorney general that his Trump University is a fraud.
The billionaire real-estate developer made it clear that he believes a $40 million lawsuit from New York's attorney general, Democrat Eric Schneiderman, is politically motivated — and could even have come at the behest of President Barack Obama.
Trump said on both MSNBC's "Morning Joe" and on Fox News' "Fox and Friends" that Schneiderman had met Obama last week, less than 48 hours before the suit was filed.
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"They [met] on Thursday evening," Trump said on Fox.
"I get sued on Saturday at 1 o'clock. Think of it. What government agency in the history of this country has ever brought a suit on a Saturday? I never heard of such a thing."
"It was a terribly drawn suit — incompetently drawn suit," Trump added. "They obviously did it very quickly."
On "Morning Joe,"
he said " Maybe it was because of Obama, I don't know, you people are going to have to check it out."
Schneiderman's suit alleges that Trump University defrauded more than 5,000 people by offering free get-rich-quick seminars, and accused Trump of operating a bait and switch.
"Trading on his celebrity status, Mr. Trump personally appeared in advertisements making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got," Schneiderman said, according to The New York Daily News.
"No one, no matter how rich or famous they are, has a right to scam hardworking New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable."
But Trump said Schneiderman's suit was unfounded.
"It's really an unfair situation," he said on Fox. "We have this wonderful school. It did a terrific job. They were really fantastic.
"You have an attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, who really is a lightweight. He's not respected by anybody. He's got an approval rating … his high rating is about 4 percent — and by the way, our approval rating on the school is 98 percent. Ninety-eight percent of the people that took the courses give it a really great rating.
"So we have this fantastic school and he went after it, for political reasons."
Trump, acknowledging that he made a $12,500 contribution to Schneiderman's 2010 election campaign, countered that the lawsuit is also personally motivated.
"He was very unhappy because he wanted me to do much more than that. He wanted me to introduce him to a lot of my big business friends, and I didn't have time for it," Trump said on Fox.
"He'd come up to my office, unbeknownst, just come up. I'd see him and sit with him. He'd tell me about Obama, his feelings about Obama, which by the way, were not good. He would talk about Gov. Cuomo in a very harsh tone.
"This is not a good guy. This is a real political hack, and everybody knows it," Trump added.
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However, a source close to Schneiderman told the New York Post
that the suit showed that the attorney general would not be swayed by political backers.
"While some politicians are willing to turn a blind eye to fraud because of relationships, the fact that the attorney general is investigating Donald Trump clearly shows he is brave enough to follow this investigation wherever it may lead," the source said.
On "Morning Joe," Trump said Trump University is now closed.
"What we did is we closed it temporarily until we get this worked out. It's ready to go and ready to open. People want it to open. We have many, many people that will testify."
Referring to Schneiderman, Trump said, "He actually said to somebody, Trump will settle because he's not going to want this kind of publicity — I don't care about bad publicity."
Schneiderman's inquiry into Trump University began in May 2011 after complaints were received by authorities in New York, Texas, Florida, and Illinois about the institution, which charged students from $1,495 for a three-day seminar to $35,000 for a "Trump Elite" package including personal mentorship programs, reports The New York Times.
The lawsuit says many of the students were unable to land a real estate deal and were left worse off because they faced thousands of dollars in debt.
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