Cenk Uygur has an academic challenge for President Trump.
The founder and host of the Young Turks, a progressive programming network, called on Trump to voluntarily release his records from high school and college, as well as his SAT scores. If Trump’s grades during his undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania were better than his, Uygur promised he would give the president $1 million.
“My grades versus your grades at Penn. We both went to Wharton undergrad, so it’s a good apples-to-apples [comparison], okay?” Uygur declared during his show Wednesday. “If you have better grades than me, I’ll give you a million dollars. If I have better grades than you, you give me a million dollars. If you release all those things and agree to this deal, we definitely have a bet.”
Uygur seemed to be banking on two assumptions: First, that Trump wouldn’t voluntarily fork over his academic records, which he has taken pains to ensure the public never sees, if the testimony of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is to be believed.
Cohen told Congress last month that Trump directed him to send letters to schools warning of civil and criminal actions if they ever released his grades or SAT scores.
“When I say con man, I’m talking about a man who declares himself brilliant but directed me to threaten his high school, his colleges and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores,” Cohen testified to the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
Second, Uygur proclaimed with confidence there was a “between zero percent and negative 20 percent” chance that Trump had outperformed him academically in school. Trump attended New York Military Academy, a private high school, and then Fordham University for two years before transferring to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
On Wednesday, Uygur predicted Trump’s high school grades would be “laughably pathetic . . . [and] show that you never should have even gotten into Fordham.” He also charged that Trump’s Fordham grades, if made public, would “show you clearly couldn’t have transferred into Penn” and that his Penn grades would show “you probably barely graduated with the great help of your dad and all of his millionaire friends.”
They were strong assertions — so strong that Uygur concluded by admitting he did not have a million dollars, prompting protests by his co-host.
“You’ll bankrupt me and take everything I have,” Uygur said. “Go for it, Donald Trump. You know how ecstatic MAGA would be if you bankrupted me, head of the Young Turks? So go for it. Let’s see if you got better grades than me at Penn. You don’t.”
Uygur said he has been interested in seeing Trump’s academic records since 2011, when Trump publicly demanded Barack Obama release his grades.
“When he talked about Obama’s transcripts, I thought that was just deeply racist because everything on the record indicated that Obama was an excellent student,” Uygur told The Washington Post. “The only reason to [question Obama’s achievements] was presumably because of his race.”
Uygur added he felt confident he had made “the safest bet in America” and doubted he would hear back from Trump’s camp.
“Here’s what good students don’t try to do: desperately try to hide their grades,” Uygur said. “A person who threatens to bulldoze the school if they release his grades is unlikely to release his grades.”
Trump has frequently boasted of his academic achievements, especially of his two undergraduate years at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.
“I’ve also heard I was first in my class at the Wharton School of Finance,” Trump said in May, invoking a school he often references. (The school was named the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce when Trump attended but in 1972 changed its name to the Wharton School.)
However, Trump has gone to great lengths to order his academic records be hidden — perhaps even more extensively than Cohen described to Congress, as The Post’s Marc Fisher recently reported:
In 2011, days after Donald Trump challenged President Barack Obama to “show his records” to prove that he hadn’t been a “terrible student,” the headmaster at New York Military Academy got an order from his boss: Find Trump’s academic records and help bury them.
The superintendent of the private school “came to me in a panic because he had been accosted by prominent, wealthy alumni of the school who were Mr. Trump’s friends” and who wanted to keep his records secret, recalled Evan Jones, the headmaster at the time. “He said, ‘You need to go grab that record and deliver it to me because I need to deliver it to them.’ ”
The superintendent, Jeffrey Coverdale, confirmed Monday that members of the school’s board of trustees initially wanted him to hand over President Trump’s records to them, but Coverdale said he refused.
“I was given directives, part of which I could follow but part of which I could not, and that was handing them over to the trustees,” he said. “I moved them elsewhere on campus where they could not be released. It’s the only time I ever moved an alumnus’s records.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the Wharton School of Finance "technically does not exist.” However, when Trump attended, the school was called the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce. In 1972, it was renamed the Wharton School.