Attorneys for President-elect Donald Trump have filed a motion with the court that is presiding over the Trump University fraud trial, asking the trial to be continued until after Trump's inauguration. The trial was scheduled to begin on November 28th, but Trump's attorneys have argued that his surprise victory in the presidential election should entitle him to a delay so that he can make the fullest use of the transitional period between the election and his inauguration.
According to CNN:
"The 69 days until inauguration are critical and all-consuming. President-Elect Trump must receive daily security briefings, make executive appointments (ultimately, thousands), and establish relationships with appointees, members of Congress, governors and foreign leaders. He must also develop important policy priorities," attorneys said.
"Now that the election is over, we submit that the President-Elect should not be required to stand trial during the next two months while he prepares to assume the Presidency. The time and attention to prepare and testify will take him away from imperative transition work at a critical time."
Trump is not the first defendant to argue that the burdens of the presidency should preclude him from defending a civil lawsuit. Attorneys for former President Bill Clinton argued that he should have been allowed to delay his defense of the civil sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones until after his term was over, claiming that the demands of the presidency precluded Clinton from helping effectively in his own defense. Clinton's attorneys pressed the issue all the way to the Supreme Court, which unanimously rejected his argument.
Ultimately, Clinton's deposition testimony in that case provided the fuel for Clinton's eventual impeachment and disbarment, as special prosecutor Ken Starr alleged that Clinton perjured himself at least five times during the course of that testimony about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
In this case, Trump and his lawyers do not argue that Trump should be permitted to delay his defense of the lawsuit until after his term has ended, but merely until after his inauguration. In a status conference Thursday, judge Gonzalo Curiel — who became the focus of controversy on the campaign trail earlier this year when Trump suggested that his Mexican heritage precluded him from fairly presiding over the case — strongly recommended that both sides work aggressively on settlement negotiations in order to minimize further intrusions on the President-elect's time.
The plaintiffs in this case allege that the now-defunct Trump University failed to deliver on promises made to customers who purchased premium packages from the real estate seminar. Trump himself is accused of having overstated his involvement with Trump University in promotional materials in order to lure consumers into purchasing the course.