In an abrupt about-face, President-elect Donald Trump agreed on Friday to settle long-running litigation alleging that he defrauded students of Trump University, his series of real estate seminars.
The $25 million settlement, announced by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, includes restitution for 6,000 victims and $1 million in fines to the State of New York for violating education laws.
During the presidential campaign, Trump had said he would fight the case in court.
“The phony lawsuit against Trump U could have been easily settled by me but I want to go to court,” Trump tweeted on March 3. “98% approval rating by students. Easy win.”
At a primary debate, Trump said, “I don’t settle cases … I don’t do it because that’s why I don’t get sued very often, because I don’t settle, unlike a lot of other people. We have a situation where we will win in court.”
Schneiderman filed the suit in 2013, seeking $40 million in compensation for students, some of whom spent up to $35,000. Advertisements for the program claimed that Trump had hand-selected the instructors, and suggested that students would get to meet Trump. In fact, according to the suit, Trump had little to do with the program aside from lending the use of his name.
When the suit was filed, Trump denounced Schneiderman as a “political hack” and vowed to challenge the claims in court.
“Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university,” Schneiderman said in a statement on Friday. “Today, that all changes. Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.”
The settlement will resolve claims in three separate Trump University suits. A trial on one of those cases was set to begin Nov. 28 in San Diego.
In a statement, a Trump Organization spokesman said the company is “pleased to announce the complete resolution of all litigation involving Trump University.”
“While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation,” the statement said.