Trump’s ‘Great’ Memory Draws Fire in Trump University Deposition
During sworn testimony in the Trump University lawsuit, Donald Trump repeatedly said he couldn’t recall specific claims, documents or events related to the case, prompting a lawyer for the plaintiffs to ask if the real estate mogul considered himself to have “one of the best memories in the world.”
In response, Trump said he thinks he has a “good” or a “great” memory, but doesn’t recall claiming it’s one of the world’s best, according to hours of previously unreleased testimony in which Trump was questioned by the plaintiffs’ lawyer Jason Forge.
“So you don’t remember saying that you have one of the best memories in the world?” Forge asked.
“I remember you telling me, but I don’t know that I said it,” Trump replied.
Three weeks earlier, during a conversation about 9/11 with NBC News reporter Katy Tur, Trump had said he had “the world’s best memory,” Tur reported.
The transcript of the testimony was filed in court Wednesday night, as lawyers and media organizations continue their battle over how much of the lawsuit should be available to the public.
The documents provide the fullest picture yet of Trump’s lengthy depositions: Heated, drawn-out sessions tackling Trump’s business practices, the time he called the plaintiff’s lawyers “scam artists” and the questions about Trump’s memory. For his part, Trump repeatedly defended Trump University, saying it was an opportunity to pass on his business expertise to people who need it but said he had little to do with day-to-day operations.
A coalition of news organizations is meanwhile pushing for Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is presiding over the case, to order the release of videos of the depositions on the grounds that the Trump University lawsuit is a key issue in the presidential campaign and is illuminating about Trump himself. Two of them took place while Trump was on the campaign trail: One deposition was in December 2015 in New York, and another happened in January 2016, hours before holding a rally in Las Vegas.
The lawyers addressed sprawling questions about Trump’s business practices and his involvement with Trump University, the real estate seminars that plantiffs in the California class-action lawsuit claim charged up to $35,000 but didn’t teach them useful business practices. At one point in 2012, Trump threatened to counter with a lawsuit against the plaintiffs and the lawyer questioning him. He also asked if one of the lawyers could please “not lick [her] finger” before handing him documents to look at.
“Would that be OK? It’s disgusting,” Trump said.
Later, Forge, the plaintiff’s lawyers, asked Trump directly about Trump telling Time magazine in 2015 that they are “known scam artists.” Trump said he was talking about Mel Weiss, a class-action lawyer who went to prison for taking illegal kickbacks, and his business partner, who helped start the firm now representing plaintiffs in the Trump University case.
“I knew Mel Weiss. I considered him to be a scam artist,” Trump told Forge. “I don’t know you.”
Trump also defended a Trump University employee who cursed during his presentations.
While it’s not the behavior he would want from his Trump U instructors, “I’ve used foul language,” Trump said. “Sometimes you do it for emphasis. I’ve used some very bad words.”
Forge questioned Trump about claims made by a Trump University instructor who told students that he had met and had dinner with Trump when he hadn’t. Trump said it was an innocent exaggeration.
“A lot of people say they met with me and they were with me and all of that stuff. It happens all the time. I think it’s hyperbole,” Trump said. Students liked Trump University courses, and the main issue is how well the instructors taught, Trump said.
“It would be false for me to say that you and I had breakfast together this morning; right?” Forge asked.
“Yes, it’s sort of false. It would depend on how you meant it, how you said it,” Trump replied. “We sort of had lunch together.”