WASHINGTON, U.S. - Uncertainty looms over how the Trump University lawsuit will play out now that Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States. The ...
• Settlement talks possible in Trump University lawsuit
• Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who Trump harshly criticised, is presiding over the trial
• 75 ongoing lawsuits against the president-elect
WASHINGTON, U.S. - Uncertainty looms over how the Trump University lawsuit will play out now that Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States.
The president-elect is headed to Washington while involved in an array of private lawsuits, cases that could take time and attention away from his new job of running the country.
The Trump University lawsuit, in particular, accuses the president-elect and his university of misleading students who signed up for seminars to learn inside secrets of real estate investing.
Thursday’s hearing was scheduled to resolve disputes over evidence.
Trump’s attorneys have said he will be too busy with the presidential transition to participate in the November 28 trial in San Diego.
They asked that the trial be postponed until February or March, after he has taken office.
They made their request before Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the jurist Trump harshly criticised during the campaign as biased because of his Mexican heritage.
Trump had previously called him “a hater” and described his actions as “a total disgrace.”
Curiel expressed concern about the wisdom of a delay given that Trump will assume the presidency on January 20. Curiel said he will probably issue a ruling by Monday.
In a setback to Trump, Curiel also put out a tentative ruling that denied a motion by Trump's lawyer to exclude all evidence and arguments relating to the events of the presidential primaries and general election.
During the course of the hearing, Trump's attorney Daniel Petrocelli questioned whether Trump actually would be available to testify in court as a sitting president.
He said never has there been a case in the history of the United States in which a president had to come into court to testify in a trial as a defendant.
Trump might testify by video instead.
Petrocelli said Trump wants to be vindicated in this case and that it would be to his disadvantage to not attend the trial in person. "But circumstances may be that it's just not possible," he added.
Petrocelli also agreed to an offer by Curiel to have U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller work with both sides on a possible settlement. “I can tell you right now I’m all ears,” Petrocelli told Curiel.
The lawsuit was filed in 2010 on behalf of former Trump University customers, who alleged that Trump University failed on its promise to teach success in real estate.
They claim they were ripped off and lost tens of thousands of dollars after being misled about it.
Trump University is also under investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who filed another lawsuit against it in 2013. Schneiderman is also investigating Trump's charity, the Donald J Trump Foundation, for alleged tax violations.
Lawsuits are commonplace for the New York businessman, now president-elect, whose name has been plastered on hotels, golf courses, neckties and packages of steak.
Over the past 30 years, Trump has been a party to some 4,000 lawsuits.
There are currently some 75 ongoing battles the president-elect is embroiled in, unprecedented for any U.S. president.
Since even the highest office in the land is not above the law, the lawsuits will accompany Trump as he moves into the White House.
Most of the 75 open lawsuits are likely going nowhere.
More than a dozen of the 20 ongoing federal cases where Trump is a defendant are actual nonsense, filed against the future president along with co-defendants Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even Walt Disney, on behalf of seemingly mentally-unsound plaintiffs. (Anyone can file a lawsuit.).
However, there are some that could be more legitimate.
Among others, members of Trump’s golf course in Jupiter, Florida, are currently suing the the businessman-turned-politician for $2.4 million for taking fees and dues while allegedly blocking admission to the actual club.
A former employee of the same club brought a lawsuit last month, alleging she was unlawfully fired after reporting sexual harassment by a coworker.
There are also cases involving two celebrity chefs who pulled out of one of his hotel projects after the candidate made disparaging remarks about Mexicans; and Palm Beach County, which Trump says set up a flight path to send noisy planes over his private club, Mar-A-Lago.
As president, however, Trump probably won’t have to testify in lawsuits accusing him of cheating condo owners, golf-course members or vendors serving his businesses, according to legal experts.
But while the White House may be able to keep Trump off the witness stand, he can’t expect immunity from lawsuits.
However, none of the cases pending against Trump is likely to create the type of scandal that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998, they said.
Clinton’s legal problems paved the way for presidents to face lawsuits while in office.
Clinton was sued in 1994 by Paula Jones, who claimed he sexually harassed her when he was governor of Arkansas.
Clinton urged the U.S. Supreme Court to delay the case, but the justices disagreed.
Trump has vowed to sue the women who accused him of sexual misconduct, claiming they lied.
Senior lawyer Robert Bennett's advice to Trump is "You’re the president of the United States now, why don’t you move on?’”
“It wouldn’t look good to use your position of enormous power to go after a woman who probably doesn’t have money anyway. Common sense would say let it go.”