Reince Priebus says Trump settled university case to not be 'distracted' when he enters the White House

The incoming Republican chief of staff argued that the president-elect settling an alleged fraud class action lawsuit was a ‘positive sign of what kind of great president he will be’

Rachael Revesz
New York
Sunday 20 November 2016 16:35
Mr Priebus said the president-elect wants to put 'all the history behind him'
Mr Priebus said the president-elect wants to put 'all the history behind him'

The incoming chief of staff said Donald Trump paid $25 million to settle lawsuits alleging he defrauded thousands of students to avoid "distraction" when he became president.

"All of the history, he wants to put behind him and lead for all Americans. The Trump University issue is in the same vein," said Reince Priebus.

The president-elect settled three lawsuits - two in California and one in New York - which alleged he had lured students to attend his now defunct Trump University, paying as much as $35,000 per year to learn business and real estate tips from "hand picked" instructors.

"[…] you know, when the presidency hits you, and it’s at your front door, and you realise that you’re president of the United States for all Americans, there are some things that are important to you and some things you just decide, 'look, let’s move on, we’re not admitting wrongdoing, let’s just start leading this country without distraction’," said Mr Priebus.

Mr Trump has strongly denied fraud, and claimed his university got high approval ratings. But he changed his mind and decided to settle, less than two months before he enters the White House.

"I think Americans should look at this as a real positive sign about what kind of great president he is going to be," added Mr Priebus during an interview with CNN.

Mr Trump wrote on twitter that not going ahead with the Trump University lawsuits was the "only bad thing" about winning the White House.

"I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential reward because as president I have to focus on our country," he wrote.

The settlement, which will be divided between former students minus legal fees, was hailed by New York attorney general Eric Scheniderman as a "major victory" for the more than 6,000 plaintiffs.

The trail for one of the cases was due to start on 28 November.

"We are pleased to announce the complete resolution of all litigation involving Trump University," the Trump organisation said in a statement on Friday.

"While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case, resolution of these matters allows President-Elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation."

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