Giving a lifetime judicial appointment to someone who just so happened to have done Trump a huge favor sure seems shady — and very typical of Trump.
In 2010, the deputy attorney general of Texas shut down an investigation into Trump’s fraudulent Trump University — and now he’s up for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge, courtesy of Trump.
Trump named David Morales to the Southern District of Texas this week, a move recommended and applauded by far-right conservatives, including the state’s two Republican senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
A White House statement announcing the nomination noted Morales’ 17 years in the Office of the Attorney General of Texas. But it didn’t mention one of the most infamous matters Morales handled while he was there.
In 2010, the state’s Consumer Protection Division wanted to sue Trump and his scam online “university” for defrauding Texans out of millions of dollars.
“The ‘free workshops’ are merely a selling ground for the Defendant Trump U’s 3-day seminars and offer little useable content,” the investigators’ report noted. “The training materials we have reviewed indicate that Trump University 3-day seminar attendees are taught to prey upon homeowners in financial turmoil and to target foreclosure properties.”
But Morales said no.
“The decision not to sue him was political,” John Owens, former deputy of the division, told The Dallas Morning News. “Had [Trump] not been involved in politics to the extent he was at the time, we would have gotten approval. Had he been just some other scam artist, we would have sued him.”
Others did sue, though, and revealed what a huge, predatory scam the whole thing really was. This week, a federal judge in California finalized a $25 million settlement to thousands of Trump’s victims.
Yet thanks to Morales, Texas passed on the opportunity to recuperate that money for its defrauded citizens. And that might have been reason enough for Trump to want to reward Morales.
This wouldn’t mark the first time someone who killed an investigation into the Trump U scam later benefited. In 2013, mere days after Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced the state would be “reviewing the allegations” against Trump, his foundation made a $25,000 donation to a group backing her re-election campaign.
Two months later, Bondi announced she was dropping the investigation, claiming “insufficient grounds.” Since then, Bondi has continued to benefit from her friendly relationship with Trump.
It looks like Morales could be benefitting the same way. With Trump, who so openly traffics in favors regardless of the appearance of impropriety, it’s simply impossible to know.