As Donald Trump tries to spin today’s congressional testimony by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into yet another denial of his now-proven criminal — although unindicted — behavior, the president, his three oldest children. and the Trump Organization now find themselves facing a new legal peril, this time on the civil front.
U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield ruled today that a class-action lawsuit — one that accuses Trump and the other related defendants of scamming the plaintiffs into spending money on fraudulent, multilevel marketing ventures and a dubious live-seminar program that would teach them the “secrets of success” of the Trump Organization’s real estate empire — could move ahead with claims based on state law, including fraud, unfair competition, and deceptive trade practices.
The only claim that the judge refused to approve was based on federal racketeering charges that could have tripled the damages that the plaintiffs could collect if they are successful in their suit.
Judge Schofield’s decision opens the door to the beginning of pre-trial discovery, allowing the lawyers for the four anonymous plaintiffs to begin gathering evidence and testimony to bolster their claims.
According to Bloomberg News, the plaintiffs filed their suit last October “using the names Jane Doe, Luke Loe, Richard Roe, and Mary Moe, claiming they feared Trump’s habit of criticizing opponents on Twitter and exposing them to potential retaliation by his followers.”
The complaint — which they hope to turn into a class-action suit – alleges that the Trumps defrauded thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs with the bogus and worthless “ACN Network” which was similar to the failed Trump University program, which led to a lawsuit and $25 million settlement.
With Trump and his family now unable to avoid the civil lawsuit that can further reveal their unscrupulous business practices, the legal bills being racked up by the Trump Organization are surely eating into the profits of his company despite the infusion of cash that Trump’s presidency has injected into his businesses through likely foreign emoluments and the president’s frequent visits to his own golf resorts on the taxpayers’ dime.
Hopefully, the lawsuit will rectify the loss of tuition fees by the thousands of people who strived to learn the secrets of Trump’s success only to be handed a concrete example of exactly how the Trump family makes its money: by fraud and deception foisted upon innocent suckers, exactly like he runs his administration.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.
Original reporting by Bob Van Voris at Bloomberg News.