On Thursday the New York attorney general sued quite a few people and institutions with the name “Trump,” including the president, sons Eric and Donald Jr., daughter Ivanka and the Donald J. Trump Foundation, claiming that charitable donations made to the nonprofit were used to settle debts owed by the family and, get this, to buy a 6-foot-tall painting of Donald Trump.
Thanks in part to in-depth reporting by the Washington Post’s David Farenthold, who tracked the foundation and Trump’s reports of generosity that turned out to be a farce, the New York attorney general’s office began investigating the foundation.
According to CNN, the investigation found that the foundation board hasn’t met since 1999 and that Trump makes all decisions for the foundation.
Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who took over the case after disgraced Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned in May, found that Trump used tax-deductible donations to pay off his personal liabilities.
Here’s how CNN breaks down the allegations:
Attorney General Barbara Underwood alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct over more than a decade that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign.
Underwood is asking a court to dissolve the Trump Foundation and wants $2.8 million in restitution plus additional penalties.
The attorney general seeks to ban Trump from serving as a director of a New York not-for-profit for 10 years and Trump’s children from serving for one year.
The complaint alleges that the Trump Foundation engaged in repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Trump’s personal and business interests.
“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his business to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Underwood said. “This is not how private foundations should function, and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”
“This is a straightforward case of violation of the laws governing charitable foundations and nonprofit corporations in New York,” Underwood told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
Underwood claims that on at least five occasions, Trump used Trump Foundation funds to settle legal matters including a “$100,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida; a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Trump National Golf Club in 2008 and a $10,000 payment at a charity auction to purchase a painting of Trump that was displayed at the Trump National Doral in Miami,” CNN reports.
Obviously, the foundation and the president claim that all of this is just another “witch hunt” to stop them from making America great again.
“This is politics at its very worst,” a Trump Foundation representative said in a statement to CNN. He continued:
The Foundation has donated over $19 million to worthy charitable causes—more than it even received. The President himself—or through his companies—has contributed more than $8 million. The reason the Foundation was able to donate more than it took in is because it had little to no expenses. This is unheard of for a charitable foundation. The Foundation currently has $1.7 million remaining which the NYAG has been holding hostage for political gain. This is unconscionable—particularly because the Foundation previously announced its intention to dissolve more than a year and a half ago. The prior NYAG, who was recently forced to resign from office in disgrace, made it his stated mission to use this matter to not only advance his own political goals, but also for his own political fundraising. The acting NYAG’s recent statement that battling the White House is ‘the most important work (she) have ever done’ shows that such political attacks will continue unabated.
While the White House press office couldn’t be reached for comment, President Twitter Fingers had a lot to say about the matter.
“The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!” he said in one tweet, according to CNN.
“Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle,” he said in another.
My good friend 50 Cent called me to say this about the matter: