Judge to hear arguments over release of Trump video testimony

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 13, 2016 3:27 PM

By Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Wednesday will hear arguments over whether to publicly release video excerpts of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump being questioned under oath about his Trump University real-estate seminars.

Trump's lawyers are fighting release of the videos, saying they will be exploited by media organizations and others during the presidential campaign.

Lawyers for students who claim they were misled and defrauded by Trump University argue there is no good reason to block release of the videos. Transcripts of the testimony are already public.

CNN, CBS, The New York Times and other media outlets are also arguing for the videos' release.

The hearing is before U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel in San Diego, who is overseeing two class actions over the Trump University venture. A separate fraud case by New York state's attorney general is pending.

Trump has suggested that Curiel, who was born in Indiana but is of Mexican descent, is biased against him because of the presumptive Republican nominee's campaign rhetoric about illegal immigration.

The lawsuits accuse Trump of bilking students who paid as much as $35,000 each for an opportunity to learn his real estate investment strategies. The students claim they learned little and that their instructors, touted as being handpicked by Trump, had few qualifications.

Trump has claimed that the majority of students were satisfied with the seminars.

He admitted he did not select the instructors and was unfamiliar with their names, according to transcripts of the depositions.

In court papers arguing for the videos' release, lawyers for the students said the images and audio provided further nuance.

"Trump's tone, facial expressions, gestures and body language ... speak volumes to ... Trump's complete and utter unfamiliarity with the instructors and 'instruction' that student-victims received," they said.

Trump's lawyers claim media organizations and others would broadcast "out of context snippets." They also argue the video could taint the jury pool. One case is scheduled for trial in late November.

There is a "near certainty that the video depositions would be used for political purposes," Daniel Petrocelli, a lawyer for Trump, wrote in court papers.

A lawyer for the students, Jason Forge, characterized Trump's argument as hypocritical.

The presidential candidate, who has railed about the case and the judge in interviews and stump speeches, is "suddenly camera shy," Forge wrote in his papers.

(Reporting By Karen Freifeld; Editing by Anthony Lin and Jonathan Oatis)