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Donald Trump Attacks Federal Judge Involved In Trump University Case


On top of questions about donations to veterans' groups, Donald Trump is being sued over Trump University. And he personally attacked the federal judge handling the case. Trump University was a for-profit company that offered business seminars. Former students call the classes a very expensive fraud. Earlier today, and at a rally last week, Trump said the charges were unfair.


DONALD TRUMP: I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. A hater. He's a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curiel.

SHAPIRO: Trump went on to say that the judge, quote, "should be ashamed of himself." And also said this.


TRUMP: The judge - who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great. I think that's fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs. OK? I think they're going to end up -

SHAPIRO: Judge Gonzalo Curiel is not from Mexico, as Trump said. He was actually born in Indiana. And today, we're learning more about Trump University from some internal documents that Judge Curiel has unsealed. Washington Post political reporter Tom Hamburger took a pause from going through those documents to join us now. Welcome to the program.

TOM HAMBURGER: Thanks, good to be with you.

SHAPIRO: The judge agreed to release these documents in response to your paper, The Washington Post. And what are you learning from them so far?

HAMBURGER: Well, we've got hundreds of them that were released today. And so far, we're seeing sort of two categories of documents. One are depositions, some of which we had not seen before, from Trump University executives describing how the operation worked. And there are also a series of documents that are internally known as playbooks.

They're really sort of employee guides on how to run the Trump University, which is really not a university in the way one would traditionally think of it. But it's a marketing program selling how to get wealthy through real estate courses and techniques.

SHAPIRO: Is there a highlight or two that jumps out so far?

HAMBURGER: Well, there are - one of the things that is - that becomes apparent in these playbooks is that the emphasis was not so much on curriculum and substance, as far as we can tell, but there was a great deal of emphasis on targeting students that might be able to purchase the high-end gold standard courses. Those courses could cost up to $34,000, $35,000 at the high end. Students were promised personal mentoring. And the notion was if you can find a student who might be able to afford this and is on the hook, don't offer them other options. Just get them into the gold program.

SHAPIRO: Upsell them. Well, what is the status of this lawsuit now?

HAMBURGER: Well, the lawsuit is ongoing. And you heard Donald Trump complain about Judge Curiel, who has said that he expects it to go to trial in November. He made clear it would be late November, after the election.

SHAPIRO: How likely is it that Trump could possibly be called to testify?

HAMBURGER: Well, one of the things that we've learned - and in just the past few months, Judge Curiel has ordered unsealed some of Donald Trump's sworn depositions in the case. Since he was deposed and since his role in Trump University is central to the claims of the student plaintiffs and central to the Trump defense, there's a fair likelihood that he would be called to testify. And he is not shy, as we've heard already, about his feelings about the case and the judge.

SHAPIRO: Well, how unusual is it for a defendant in a civil case like this to criticize the judge in such a public way?

HAMBURGER: Oh, let's see, Ari. We could talk about so many things that are atypical here, including having a presidential candidate...

SHAPIRO: (Laughter) Right.

HAMBURGER: ... Embroiled in a controversy like this, and the one that you mentioned earlier in this segment. But it is quite unusual to have this emerge in the middle of a presidential campaign. And then stunning, I think, to have the judge called out and criticized by a presidential candidate from the podium...

SHAPIRO: All right.

HAMBURGER: ... At a campaign rally.

SHAPIRO: Washington Post political reporter Tom Hamburger. Thanks very much.

HAMBURGER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.