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Lawsuit Over Donald Trump's Former University Will Go to Trial

News that Trump could testify at a trial over allegations of fraud at his former university comes as five states cast ballots in the GOP primary Tuesday.

by Sarah Mimms
Apr 26 2016, 9:00pm

Photo by Peter Foley/EPA

A lawsuit against Donald Trump over his now-defunct Trump University will go to trial, a New York judge decided on Tuesday.

Trump and former Trump University president Michael Sexton face a $40 million lawsuit brought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who claims that the school, which purportedly helped students to learn the real estate business, was fraudulent and operated from 2005 to 2011 "as an unlicensed educational institute."

The decision by New York County Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern could mean that Trump will testify in the case this fall, potentially before the general election. Trump's legal team is pushing for a jury trial, according to Fox News, but it is still unclear whether they will get their wish.

Related: Ted Cruz and John Kasich Are Teaming Up to Stop Donald Trump

Trump has vigorously defended the school, noting in a Fox News interview that the school had an A rating from the Better Business Bureau and that 98 percent of the students at Trump University "approved the courses, they thought they were terrific" in report cards they filled out after completing the courses. Factcheck.org looked at those claims and noted that while Trump University did at one time have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, the school was given a D- rating by 2010.

Trump initially dismissed the lawsuit as political maneuvering by Schneiderman, claiming that the attorney general was attempting to get payback after members of the Trump family refused to donate to his political campaigns. One of his attorneys at the time called the lawsuit "tantamount to extortion".

Trump filed a formal complaint over the matter with the New York state ethics board in 2013, but it was dismissed.

"More than 5,000 people across the country who paid Donald Trump [in aggregate] $40 million to teach them his hard sell tactics got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch," Schneiderman said in a statement at the time. "Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn't afford for lessons they never got. No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hard working New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable."

Related: Donald Trump Has Been Playing a 'Part,' Top Aide Tells Republican Leaders

Schneiderman's lawsuit is just one of three that Trump is facing over allegations of fraud by his former university. Former students have also filed two class action lawsuits against the GOP frontrunner in California over the matter.

The university and the resulting lawsuits have been the topic of several campaign ads attacking Trump this election cycle.

The announcement comes as voters in five states across the Northeast are casting their ballots in the Republican presidential primary; Trump is expected to win them all.

Related: New York's Attorney General Will Investigate Alleged Voter Suppression in State's Primary

Follow Sarah Mimms on Twitter: @SarahMMimms