Donald Trump has agreed to a $25 million settlement to end high-profile lawsuits against his eponymous and now defunct real estate seminar Trump University, the New York Attorney General said Friday, ending the legal controversy that at times dogged his campaign and threatened to force the President-elect to testify in open court before his inauguration.
The settlement will cover three lawsuits related to Trump University: two class action suits in California and a case brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
"Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university," Schneiderman said in a statement. " Today, that all changes. Today's $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university."
Each plaintiff will receive restitution and Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to New York state, Schneiderman said. Multiple reports ahead of Schneiderman's announcement indicated that Trump, who had vowed during his campaign that there would be no settlement, would not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the deal.
"The victims of Trump University have waited years for today's result and I am pleased that their patience—and persistence—will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement."
In a statement, the Trump Organization maintained that he would have won in court. "While we have no doubt that Trump University would have prevailed at trial based on the merits of this case," a spokesperson said, "resolution of these matters allows President-Elect Trump to devote his full attention to the important issues facing our great nation."
One California class action lawsuit was filed against Trump University in 2010, and Trump's lawyers raced to reach a settlement this week before a trial was due to start on Nov. 28. It was that lawsuit drew headlines during Trump's presidential campaign when he accused U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel of being biased against him because of his Mexican heritage. (Trump wrongly called Curiel, an American who was born in Indiana, "Mexican.") After Trump won the election, Curiel advised both sides to consider a settlement rather than trial, “given all else that’s involved" in light of Trump's new status as President-elect of the United States.
The suit alleged that Trump University defrauded students by presenting itself as an accredited institution and pressured people to spend up to $35,000 for classes taught by instructors advertised as “hand picked” by Trump. "At its core, the accusation is that the name was deceptive on both counts:—that there were no distinctive Trump methods or secrets actually provided. And despite its use of terms like professors, adjunct professors and tuition, it was never a university," Steven Brill wrote for TIME of the suit in 2015.
Trump University operated between 2005 to 2010, during which time about 7,000 consumers paid between $1,495 and $34,995 for courses.