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Trump attorneys seek to block testimony from Times columnist

Trump attorneys seek to block testimony from Times columnist
Donald Trump at a news conference in New York in 2005 announcing the establishment of Trump University. A class-action suit filed by former students is set to go to trial this month. (Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press)

Attorneys for Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump and Trump University are seeking to block Los Angeles Times consumer columnist David Lazarus from testifying in a class-action fraud case brought by former Trump University students.

In a motion filed Thursday in federal court in San Diego, Trump's attorneys argued that the court should not hear testimony from Lazarus or allow three of his columns about the now-defunct Trump University — as well as a letter from Trump about Lazarus — to be entered into evidence. The filing came after attorneys reviewed a list of potential witnesses.

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Daniel Petrocelli, a partner at Century City law firm O'Melveny & Myers who is representing Trump and Trump University, argued in the filing that Lazarus' columns and potential testimony have no bearing "on any fact of consequence in this case."

Rather, Petrocelli argues that attorneys for the former Trump University students seek to "poison the jury by introducing as 'evidence' the negative opinions of a business columnist."

Times spokeswoman Hillary Manning said the newspaper had no comment.

Lazarus in 2007 attended a free seminar put on by Trump University at a hotel in Pasadena. He wrote a column describing the seminar as a sales pitch for a Trump University seminar that cost nearly $1,500.

Lazarus also wrote that, despite promises of "priceless information," the seminar provided little useful information and encouraged risky investments.

Trump wrote a letter to Times Editor Davan Maharaj, calling Lazarus a "wise-guy" and describing Trump University as "very successful." After the letter was published, Lazarus spoke with Trump and reported that Trump had threatened to sue him.

Trump attorney Petrocelli argued that the former Trump University students' lawsuit does not focus on the type of free event that Lazarus attended.

The former students, who sued Trump University in 2010, allege that the program made deceptive claims about what kind of profits they could make.

A trial is set to begin Nov. 28.

Follow me: @jrkoren

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