It’s election day in five states today, and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump is expected to have a very good night. He’s expected to do well in today’s so-called Acela primary — most of the states up for grabs fall along Amtrak’s Acela train line between Washington, D.C., and Connecticut — and walk away with a majority of delegates in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
But even as he looks forward to a victorious night, Trump just received some bad news from a New York judge.
As Fox News reports:
A New York judge decided Tuesday that a fraud case against Donald Trump over his former school for real estate investors will go to trial – raising the possibility that the Republican presidential primary front-runner could testify during campaign season.
New York County Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern made the decision at a hearing Tuesday, though it remains unclear whether the case will be weighed at a jury trial – which is what Trump’s team is seeking. Trump attorney Jeffrey Goldman said it’s possible the trial could be held this fall, and Trump could testify.
In the case, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, has accused Trump and others of misleading thousands of students over the school.
Schneiderman alleges that Trump University was unlicensed since it began operating in 2005 and promised lessons with real estate experts hand-picked by Trump, only one of whom had ever met him. The attorney general said the school used “bait-and-switch” tactics, inducing students to enroll in increasingly expensive seminars.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing. He has said it was “a terrific school” with 98 percent approval ratings by its students.
Schneiderman had sued Trump and the school, which changed its name to the Trump Entrepreneur Initiative before it closed in 2010, for $40 million. The lawsuit seeks restitution and damages for more than 5,000 students nationwide, including 600 New Yorkers, who paid up to $35,000 each.
A New York court earlier had refused to throw out the fraud lawsuit.
Trump filed complaints with the state’s ethics commission in 2013, four months after the lawsuit was filed, alleging Schneiderman pursued it to wring out campaign contributions from Trump’s daughter Ivanka. The commission dropped the complaint after a review. Schneiderman denied it, and his campaign returned the $500 donation Ivanka Trump had made in 2012.
No word yet from Trump on this latest decision. Interesting times we live in, when we have the leading Democrat candidate under FBI investigation and the leading GOP candidate facing fraud charges — NOT that I am comparing the two, mind you.
Though Trump reportedly has been pushing for a jury trial, the existence of this case — and what are sure to be sound bites and headlines arising from it — will certainly play into the campaign narrative, for better or worse. Whatever the truth of the case — the trial will no doubt bring much more evidence to light — it will no doubt be a distraction for the candidate and provide fodder for his rivals. Optics mean a lot (just ask Michael Dukakis, for example) and images of Trump testifying during election season — assuming he ends up as the GOP nominee — will likely be all over the news should that end up happening. Though, of course, knowing Trump, he may end up turning that into a positive.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]