John Oliver covers Trump University on Last Week Tonight


John Oliver calls out Trump University’s shady business practices on Last Week Tonight.

The lawsuits against Donald Trump’s now-defunct Trump University have recently received renewed interest due to his continued attacks on the judge presiding over the case in California due to his Mexican heritage, which the billionaire claims makes him biased against him. The attacks against Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel, whose parents legally immigrated from Mexico, and the lawsuits filed by former students for fraud were covered by John Oliver on the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight.

Oliver has taken to extensively criticizing the Republican nominee in recent months after refusing to devote any time to him last year, most notably in the “Make Donald Drumpf Again” clip that quickly went viral. On Sunday, the host claimed that they had much more material for the segment that they didn’t have time for, including further discussing the issues involving Trump University. With the case now in the news again due to Trump’s offensive comments, it allowed Oliver to revisit the topic.

After condemning Trump’s assertions that a Hispanic or Muslim judge would treat him unfairly, as well as mocking the multitude of lawsuits that his businesses have been involved in, the comedian tore into Trump University’s unsavory business practices, including their tactics in targeting low-income individuals such as struggling single-mothers.

Oliver noted that the company started running into problems in several states for its name, since it was not actually an accredited university. “It makes you wonder what the f*** was in Trump steaks,” he joked, referencing another one of Trump’s failed business ventures. “Oh God, it was possum, wasn’t?! It was possum, you monsters!”

Olive went on to point out that although Trump promised to “hand-pick instructors,” he later said in depositions that he had very little involvement in selecting them. It also turns that many of the instructors had little experience in buying or selling real estate, which is what they were teaching, instead having such jobs as a salesman for Lowe’s and a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Oliver continued: “Even a former member of Trump’s own sales staff testified that it was, among other things, a ‘joke, a facade, and was just selling false hopes and lies,’ and to be fair, every university has sold some of its students false hopes and lies. It’s just most of the time it’s called a Theaters Arts degree.”

The comic went on to criticize the company’s sleazy sales tactics, including telling clients that courses costed anywhere from $25 to $35,000, and if they complained about a price, simply remind them that “Trump is the best.” Employees were also told to substitute the word “thank you” with “congratulations,” so the customers would end up thanking them.

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Oliver also called them out for marketing their courses to people who were struggling financially, such as a single mother with three kids who “may need money for food.” They would also insist that money was never a valid reason for not enrolling in Trump University. Other suspicious business practices included having a plan for what to do if a attorney general showed up.

Trump has defended the business by stating that 98% of the students approved of their courses, but Oliver explained that plaintiffs have detailed that the surveys were not anonymous, and were filled out when they were expecting to receive future benefits from the program like assistance from an instructor they were evaluating, with one former student that gave a positive review likening the process to a fancy meal that later gives you food poisoning.

Oliver concluded by declaring that the most valuable lesson from all this is that Trump’s campaign strategy comes right out of the playbook for his university, which stated that his sales people “don’t sell products, benefits or solutions — you sell feelings.” He argued that this sentiment in evidenced in his supporters, who “may not be able to point to concrete benefits or solution he offers, but they know how he makes them feel, and that is jacked up and ready to boo any name that sounds vaguely Latino.”

He ended by pointing potential Trump voters to this quote from the Trump University home page: “Take the risk, but before you do, learn what you’re getting yourself into.”

Watch portions of the segment below:

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Since sparking controversy with his remarks that have been rebuked by politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle, Trump began to do some damage control Monday night, softening his tone a bit in an interview with Bill O’Reilly, where he said that he didn’t care if Curiel is Mexican. He’s since released a statement to the media claiming his comments were “misconstrued,” but stopped short of offering an apology. But that hasn’t stopped his fellow Republicans from coming out strongly against him, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who called the attacks “the textbook definition of a racist comment,” as well as endangered Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk, who announced that he will not be endorsing nor voting for Trump, labeling his recent statements as “un-American.”

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver airs Sundays at 11 p.m. on HBO.