Patterico's Pontifications


The Trump University Scam

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:11 pm

The article linked by Charles C.W. Cooke in the above thread has to be read to be believed. The New York Attorney General once said of Trump University: ““We started looking at Trump University and discovered that it was a classic bait-and-switch scheme. It was a scam, starting with the fact that it was not a university.” The piece quotes one lawsuit against Trump as saying:

The free seminars were the first step in a bait and switch to induce prospective students to enroll in increasingly expensive seminars starting with the three-day $1495 seminar and ultimately one of respondents’ advanced seminars such as the “Gold Elite” program costing $35,000.

At the “free” 90-minute introductory seminars to which Trump University advertisements and solicitations invited prospective students, Trump University instructors engaged in a methodical, systematic series of misrepresentations designed to convince students to sign up for the Trump University three-day seminar at a cost of $1495.

Well, but a lawsuit can allege anything, right? Except that The Atlantic got hold of the “university” playbook and wrote a piece about it in March 2014. That piece, to me, shows that the allegations of the lawsuit had merit:

The playbook makes Trump’s school seem like not so much a school of higher learning as a meticulously choreographed sales event. Perhaps not surprisingly, Trump University turns out to be more “Trump” than “University.”

The playbook, prepared for Trump University seminars in Texas in 2009, might be summed up in one word: sell. Or as the playbook puts it on page 23, “Sell, Sell, Sell!” The playbook posits a “Minimum Sales Goal” of $72,500 per seminar, meaning that the seminars leaders needed to convince at least 20 percent of attendees to sign up for three-day seminars costing $1,495.

Under the heading “Registration Goal & Procedure,” Trump U. staffers are instructed to “Welcome attendees and build a Trump-esque atmosphere,” “Disarm any uncertainty,” and “Set the hook.” The hook in this case consists of selling seminar attendees on increasingly costly additional courses, culminating in the “Trump Gold Elite” package, for a cool $34,995. Pricey, yes, but the playbook notes that the list price of the Trump Gold Elite package is $49,415, a savings to students of 29 percent. Even before Trump University students had made their first real-estate transaction, they had managed to get themselves a deal, of sorts.

. . . .

The playbook says almost nothing about the guest speaker presentations, the ostensible reason why people showed up to the seminar in the first place. Instead, the playbook focuses on the seminars’ real purpose: to browbeat attendees into purchasing expensive Trump University course packages.

Here was Trump’s sales pitch, in which he told a credulous-looking boob that the instructors would be “hand-picked” by him:

National Review:

But according to the New York complaint, none of the instructors was “handpicked” by Trump, many of them came from fields having nothing to do with real-estate, and Trump “‘never’ reviewed any of Trump University’s curricula or programming materials.” The materials were “in large part developed by a third-party company that creates and develops materials for an array of motivational speakers and seminar and timeshare rental companies.” Furthermore, Trump’s promises that the three-day seminar ($1,495) would include “access to ‘private’ or ‘hard money’ lenders and financing,” that it would include a “year-long ‘apprenticeship support’ program,” and that it would ‘improve the credit scores’ of students were empty.

And here are some of the victims:

A playbook obtained by The Atlantic states: “If a district attorney arrives on the scene, contact the appropriate media spokesperson immediately.”

As Tuttle drolly concludes: “Sounds legit.”

This man is a grifter. A huckster. He tells you he won’t provide his tax returns because he has been audited for 12 years, or 2-3 years, or 4-5 years, yet provides zero proof in the form of (say) audit notifications. He pronounces “II Corinthians” as “Two Corinthians” and says he has nothing to ask God forgiveness for, and tells you that he is perhaps being audited because he is such a strong Christian.

If you’re supporting this man after hearing this, I don’t know what to say. Usually, people taken in by grifters mostly harm themselves, so if they don’t listen to your entreaties to stop being scammed . . . well, they have only themselves to blame.

But here, your being a chump sucker hurts my children. So I will tell you frankly: I resent you. I resent you for not taking this seriously. I resent you for treating the presidential race as a big reality show created to entertain you. If I could force you into a small country ruled by Trump, to get you out of my country, I would.

If you can force this man on me and my family, our political system and our society has failed. It is time to start over.

Donald Trump Is Lying About IRS Audits

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:52 am

Donald Trump is lying about being audited by the IRS. I know this, not just because I know Trump is a serial liar, but also because I watched the debate and watched him say at least three different things about it.

Here is the transcript of last night’s debate — although, be warned: it misses some key moments, so the video is the final word. Trump said numerous contradictory things about being audited.

From 1:20:00 to 1:20:30 in this video:

TRUMP: I’ve been audited every year. Twelve years, or something like that. Every year they audit me, audit me, audit me.

Nobody gets audited — I have friends that are very wealthy people. They never get audited. I get audited every year. I will absolutely give my return, but I’m being audited now for two or three years, so I can’t do it until the audit is finished, obviously. And I think people would understand that.

Beginning at 1:28:17:

TRUMP: As — and believe me, I’ll win that case. That’s an easy case. Civil case. Number two, as far as the taxes are concerned, I’m being audited. It’s a very routine audit, and it’s very unfair, because I’ve been audited for, I think, over 12 years.

Every year, because of the size of my company, which is very, very large, I’m being audited — which is a very large company.


BLITZER: Thank you.

TRUMP: I’m being audited 12 years in a row, at least.

Now, until that audit’s done, and I don’t think anybody would blame me, I’m not giving it…


CRUZ: … what about the years you’re not being audited? Will you release those years?

BLITZER: Gentlemen, gentlemen, thank you.

TRUMP: (inaudible) I am being audited for those years.

CRUZ: Which years? Which years are you being audited?

TRUMP: (inaudible) last four or five years.

BLITZER: Gentlemen…


BLITZER: … we have, we have rules — we’re trying to obey these rules that all of you agreed.

So which is it? 12 years? Two or three years? The last four or five years?

Or . . . not at all? Could it be that Trump is simply making up the audits?

(Note how Blitzer jumps in to save Trump — as he did all night. Note also that the bit about the last four or five years is not in the transcript, which labels it “crosstalk.” That’s why I gave you the video and the timestamp. Thanks to David Shor on Twitter for that.)

As for the “not at all” theory, consider this. When Trump was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt before he announced, he tried to evade the question of releasing tax returns — but, when pressed, said he would do it . . . and didn’t mention audits at all:

Trump is lying about some aspect of this, as his multiple contradictory statements show — just like he is lying about Romney not releasing any tax returns until September 2012. (Romney released his 2010 return in January 2012.) Trump is lying — and thinks he can get away with it, I submit, because the IRS can’t release details about audits . . . because they are considered private. The huckster is using that to his advantage.

But Trump could release the audit notification letters. I wonder if any journalist will ask him to.

P.S. Bonus digression regarding Trump making assertions that people can’t check. Trump said last night:

I know the insurance companies, they’re friends of mine. The top guys, they’re friends of mine. I shouldn’t tell you guys, you’ll say it’s terrible, I have a conflict of interest. They’re friends of mine, there’s some right in the audience. One of them was just waving to me, he was laughing and smiling.

Trump almost certainly made that up. In the South Carolina debate, he was booed several times. Asked about it the next day, Trump said:

The pledge isn’t being honored by the RNC. Because those tickets were all special-interest people. And I know them! I’m looking in the audience: Some of them are friends of mine and yet they’re booing me because they’re having fun. The guy’s booing me and he’s laughing and he’s waving and he’s going, “Boo, boo.” And he’s waving at me.

How often does Trump have friends in the audience laughing and waving at him?

The thing is, you can’t falsify something like that. And Trump knows it.

So he makes it up.

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