The Slatest

“Mexican” Judge (He’s American) Gets Last Laugh as Appeals Court OKs $25 Million Trump University Settlement

Donald Trump with Clemson University football coach Dabo Swinney at the White House on June 12, 2017.
Donald Trump with Clemson University football coach Dabo Swinney at the White House on June 12.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Trump University” is back in the news! And the news is that the president still has to pay $25 million to his former “students,” who sued him for ripping them off:

A federal appeals court has upheld the $25 million settlement President Donald Trump agreed to in a bid to resolve long running lawsuits claiming fraud in his Trump University real estate seminar venture.

That’s from Politico, which explains that the appeals court had heard a challenge that originated not with Trump but with one of the approximately 4,000 plaintiffs involved in the class-action suit. (The plaintiff asked to opt out of the settlement and pursue her own litigation, but her request was denied.)

If you don’t recall, “Trump University” ostensibly existed to educate students about the ins and outs of the real-estate business; in reality it involved “instructors” who may not have had high school degrees selling intellectually flimsy seminars that cost tens of thousands of dollars using infomercial-style high-pressure sales tactics. The for-profit institution was ultimately forced to change its name (becoming the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative) by New York officials who wrote that its “use of the word ‘university’ ” was “misleading” and violated state law. When disgruntled students’ lawsuits became an issue during the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump disparaged the judge handling the cases—a highly regarded former prosecutor who has Mexican ancestry but was born in Indiana—as a “Mexican” who was biased against him because of … Mexico:

I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump, a hater. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel and he is not doing the right thing. So what happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK? I think they’re going to end up. I think they’re going to love me. So I’ll be seeing you in November either as president—and I will say this. I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I think it’s a disgrace.

Cogent stuff. As it happens, Judge Curiel—who was not one of the judges who ruled on the appeal that was just decided—is about to begin hearing a case that involves a dispute over the federal government’s authority to implement certain border security measures including, yes, giant walls between the Southern U.S. and Mexico. Good times are here again!