Donald Trump, targeted by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over Trump University, just clobbered the ethically challenged AG in a major court victory.
This afternoon New York State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern forced Schneiderman to abandon the bulk of his well-publicized claims against the famous developer, television star and possible candidate for national or state office.
Schneiderman, whom we dubbed in this space “Shakedown Schneiderman” for his sleazy attempts to get money from Trump, his family and associates — money designed to further Schneiderman’s political career — just had his legal head handed to him. The lawsuit was designed to portray the billionaire as scamming students for $35,000 to attend an entrepreneurial event designed to teach attendees how to succeed in the world of real estate. Some 10,000 students attended, a handful complaining that they were unsatisfied with the results. In some cases this came after the complainants voluntarily filled out glowing reports on the sessions they attended.
The judge’s ruling ensures that most of the complainants can no longer proceed with a suit allegingstatutory fraud. The remaining attendees who choose to do so must now meet a tough evidentiary standard set by the judge. Schneiderman was also prohibited from filing an injunction. In a news release, Trump’s office said that the decision “validates what Trump University has been saying for months: that the lawsuit is a desperate attempt by AG Schneiderman to generate publicity, a waste of public resources and a case that never should have been brought.”
A word here.
We wrote about this lawsuit (here, here, and here) after Schneiderman first went public with it…on a Saturday no less….and later when Trump took the fight directly to the publicity hungry politician.
As noted at the time here, this was an outrageous attempt at plain old fashioned extortion. The notion that a billionaire would be plotting to scam money from honest people who wanted to learn something about real estate was preposterous on its face. The further we investigated it became shockingly apparent that Schneiderman had been engaged in a highly unethical pattern of extorting money for his career while dangling the possibility of the lawsuit. At one point, according to the court papers Trump filed, Schneiderman specifically told Trump’s lawyer that he, Schneiderman, could get Trump to quietly settle the $40 million suit out of court because Trump wouldn’t want the bad publicity.
It also became clear that Schneiderman, a former New York state senator, had emerged from an ethical swamp that has already snared multiples of New York State Senators. Prominent among them was one Shirley Huntley, an ex-state senator now serving time in the federal pen. As it turns out, in the course of the Huntley investigation Huntley herself alleged that one of the dirty politicians she had dealt with was, yes indeed, Eric Schneiderman.
Huntley, said the New York Daily News, had knowledge “about corruption involving Eric Schneiderman.
And that was separate and apart from Schneiderman’s efforts to extort money from Trump.
The question now is whether Governor Cuomo and others in a position to do something will begin to consider removing Schneiderman for what the New York State Constitution quaintly calls “malversation” — which is to say improper or corrupt behavior. Trump, by the way, has also filed an ethics complaint against Schneiderman, whose conduct has been appalling.
Wherever this goes from here, this was a significant — and highly deserved — victory for Donald Trump. He has been mulling a run for either president or governor of New York. Whatever he decides, this was an outright victory today.
As well it should have been.