Lawyers working for U.S. President-elect Donald Trump have filed a motion on Saturday to delay the trial over a lawsuit by former Trump University students.
The ex-students of the now-defunct university claim that they were tricked into paying US$35,000 to learn Trump’s real estate investing “secrets” from his “hand-picked” instructors, reported Reuters.
The federal court trial is scheduled to take place on November 28 in San Diego, but Trump lawyer Daniel Petrocelli argued that his client needed to “devote all of his time and attention to the transition process” prior to his inauguration on January 20, 2017.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) November 14, 2016
“The 69 days until inauguration are critical and all-consuming,” said Petrocelli, concluding that Trump should not be asked to stand trial during this period.
Trump’s team of lawyers wrote in the motion that they were not looking to postpone the case indefinitely or until the end of Trump’s presidential term.
“Instead, we seek a modest continuance of the trial to a date after the inauguration that is convenient for the parties and the Court,” they wrote, as quoted by Politico.
— POLITICO (@politico) November 13, 2016
However, the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, told Trump’s attorneys that he did not favor putting off a six-year-old case and suggested that the parties settle instead.
According to the lawsuit, the claimants said they were misled to believe that the program was accredited, adding that the seminars and classes had failed to fulfill the promises that had convinced them to sign up in the first place.
They also accused Trump of playing a significant part in the university’s failure, as he owned 92 percent of the business and had a say in all major decisions.
Trump has denied the allegation, though, saying that he had relied on others to manage the university.
— CNN (@CNN) November 13, 2016
He has also previously refused to settle the cases. CNN quoted him saying back in March: “This is a case I could have settled very easily, but I don’t settle cases very easily when I’m right.”
Trump currently faces two federal class-action suits over alleged fraud in the Trump University program, which are being overseen by Curiel, while a separate lawsuit by New York’s attorney general is pending.
During his presidential campaign, Trump had claimed that Curiel was biased against him due to the judge’s Mexican heritage – one of Trump’s campaign pledges was to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep immigrants out.
According to U.S. law, presidents get immunity from lawsuits arising from their official duties, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that it does not extend to acts that allegedly took place prior to taking office.
Image via the Associated Press