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Trump's weekend: Settling fraud lawsuits for $25m and demanding apologies from Broadway cast

And Ireland’s Leo Varadkar has picked a side in the scrap.

Source: Tim Foley/YouTube

Updated 6.42pm

MIKE PENCE HAS sought to defuse an argument between US president-elect Donald Trump and the team behind Hamilton, insisting he was not offended by the curtain call directed at him on Friday night.

Earlier, and for a second time in two days, Donald Trump called on the cast and producers of to apologise to the vice-president elect.

Using Twitter, he described the Broadway show – which has won 11 Tony awards, a Grammy and the Pultizer prize – as overrated.

The calls came after actor Brandon Dixon (who plays vice president Aaron Burr in the show) read out a statement to Mike Pence as he attended a performance in Manhattan on Friday night.

“We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” Dixon said to huge reaction from the audience.

But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

He also highlighted the fact that Hamilton was performed by “a diverse group of men, women of different colours, creeds and orientations”.

The New York Times reported that Pence stood in the hallway by the entrance to listen to the entire speech. When he entered the theatre earlier before the show, Trump’s right-hand man was greeted with a mix of boos and cheers from the audience.

Today, Pence told Fox News that he heard what was said from the stage.

“I can tell you I wasn’t offended by what was said. I’ll leave to others whether that was the appropriate venue to say it.”

He acknowledged that some people who voted for Hillary Clinton on 8 November were anxious about a Trump presidency.

“I just want to reassure people that what president-elect Donald Trump said on election night – that he would be the president of all Americans – he absolutely meant from the bottom of his heart,” he added.

Pence also told people that he really enjoyed the show with his daughter and her cousins.

Hamilton is just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there.

Ireland’s Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar rowed into the debate today, posting a video of the curtain call, describing it as “beautiful and powerful”.

Writing on Facebook and Twitter, he said: “This is how we should engage with those who do not share our values. Soften hearts and change minds. Confident and respectful.”

He also repeated the sentiment while appearing on Marian Finucane’s programme on RTÉ Radio One.

His message that he would challenge Trump policies hits a different note to how the Taoiseach has been speaking about the new US administration.

Enda Kenny yesterday tweeted about how Pence knew what was important to Ireland.

Varadkar said he would like to tell Pence his story, noting that he does not like what Pence stands for. The VP-elect has previously said he would support the treatment of gay people so they could “change their sexual behaviour”.

He said that Ireland should engage with Trump and Pence but not sacrifice our values and social freedoms.

Broadcaster and journalist Dan Rather has today spoken out fiercely against Trump’s reaction to the Hamilton curtain call.

“Bullies are often thin-skinned, quick to overreact when challenged, and undone when people are no longer afraid to speak truth to their face. Great presidents are almost always the opposite in all those categories,” he wrote in a much-shared Facebook post.

“Reflecting on Donald Trump’s complete overreaction to a statement made at the end of a performance of Broadway’s Hamilton: An American Musical, I couldn’t help but think – doesn’t this man have more important things to worry about?

Hasn’t the theatre long been a stage for political art? And isn’t this a man who broke so many norms as a candidate, insulted so many people – individually and as groups – that he now has the nerve to demand an apology when he never gave one himself?

“I know there are many who say that this incident shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. Yes, when compared to cabinet posts or paying out $25 million in a fraud case against ‘Trump University’, a tweet maybe might not seem that important.

“But being president is to have every word you utter scrutinised. And these words are intimidating and unfitting of the office of the presidency. But more importantly, they show a real weakness of vanity and small-mindedness that our enemies abroad will likely look to exploit.

“I can also imagine that Trump’s political foes at home are noticing – once again – how easily he can be rattled.

I imagine this is not the last we will see of these kinds of incidents.

As referenced by Rather, Trump continues to discuss the Hamilton performance and statement a day after announcing that he settled three class action lawsuits over his now-defunct Trump University.

It is understood the settlement is worth $25 million. A number of students who will receive the payout within four months had accused him of fraud.

“I settled the Trump University lawsuit for a small fraction of the potential award because as President I have to focus on our country. The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!” he said before turning his attention to Broadway.

Earlier this year, he had said he would not settle the case, insisting that the training programme had a 98% approval rating.

Those taking the action said that they had been misled by the businessman.

Students paid as much as $35,000 to enroll, wrongly believing they would make it big in real estate after being taught by what the Manhattan mogul described as experts he had hand-picked, the suits said.

The former students in New York and California alleged that the Trump training programme – which was not an accredited college or university, and operated from 2005 to 2011 – fleeced students by tricking them with aggressive marketing.

Trump’s lawyers had countered for years that many students had given the programme a thumbs-up and those who failed to succeed had only themselves to blame.

But with the president-elect apparently seeking to put the thorny matter to rest as he builds his cabinet, a deal was reached.

“Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university,” New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

A spokesperson for Schneiderman’s office said the settlement covers all three class-action lawsuits against Trump University: two in California dating to 2010 and one in New York filed in 2013.

Robert Guillo, a 76-year-old New Yorker who spent nearly $40,000 on tuition alongside his son, previously told AFP that the programme was an “absolute scam.”

“I learned absolutely nothing,” he said. “He fooled me for $35,000.”

Lead Trump attorney Daniel Petrocelli said his client had put aside his personal feelings to settle the matter.

“President-elect Trump is pleased to put this case behind him,” he told reporters in San Diego.

We think it’s a victory for everybody.

Trump agreed to the settlement without admitting any fault or liability, Petrocelli added.

Trump is in Bedminster, New Jersey today as he continues to handpick his administration.

—With reporting from AFP

Related: Trump demands apology after Mike Pence booed at performance of hit musical

More: Trump dubbed ‘the first anti-science president’ the US has ever had

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