Trump floats idea for ‘American Academy’ years after his Trump University ‘sham’ cost him $25m

Despite agreeing to a $25m settlement after the New York Attorney General accused Trump University of deception and fraud, former President Donald Trump has floated a plan to launch a new institution: American Academy.

Mr Trump made the announcement in a new video on Truth Social on Wednesday, and cited campus reactions to the Israel-Hamas war as evidence of the need for a new college experience.

“In recent weeks, Americans have been horrified to see students and faculty at Harvard and other once-respected universities expressing support for the savages and jihadists who attacked Israel,” Mr Trump said. “We spend more money on higher education than any other country—and yet, they’re turning our students into Communists and terrorist sympathizers of many, many different dimensions.

“We can’t let this happen,” he continued.” It’s time to offer something dramatically different. Under the plan I’m announcing today we will take the billions and billions of dollars that we will collect by taxing, fining, and suing excessively large university endowments.”

That money in turn would be used to endow a new institution called the American Academy, Mr Trump explained. “Its mission will be to make a truly world-class education available to every American, free of charge, and do it without adding a single dime to the federal debt.

“This institution will gather an entire universe of the highest quality of educational content covering the full spectrum of human knowledge and skills and make that material available to every American citizen online, for free,” Mr Trump promised.

He said the institution will offer a “top-tier education option for the people,” adding it will be “strictly nonpolitical and there will be no wokeness or jihadism allowed.”

American Academy would “compete directly” with four-year universities. It would award students with the “equivalent of a bachelor’s degree.”

“This will be a revolution in higher education,” Mr Trump claimed.

The Independent has reached out to Harvard for comment.

The 2024 frontrunner’s ambitious venture comes six years after the Trump University settlement was finalized. The New York Attorney General said at the time “this settlement marked a stunning reversal by President Trump, who for years refused to compensate the victims of his sham university. My office won’t hesitate to hold those who commit fraud accountable, no matter how rich or powerful they may be.”

The announcement of the new institution arrives as the former president not only is running for re-election, but also facing a series of legal battles, at both federal and state levels, including a fraud trial in New York, in which the attorney general has accused him of inflating his net worth by as much as $2.2bn.