Let’s start with Trump’s response via Twitter this morning (read from the bottom up)
I like how he puts “no fees” in there. What charitable organization charges fees? In any event, to argue that the Trump Foundation was fiscally responsible is laughable.
David Fahrenthold, who won a Pulitzer for his reporting on the Trump Foundation writes:
President Trump has agreed to shut down his embattled personal charity and to give away its remaining money amid allegations that he used the foundation for his personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced Tuesday.
Underwood said that the Donald J. Trump Foundation is dissolving as her office pursues its lawsuit against the charity, Trump and his three eldest children.
The suit, filed in June, alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the foundation, which Trump began in 1987. Underwood is continuing to seek more than $2.8 million in restitution and has asked a judge to ban the Trumps temporarily from serving on the boards of other New York nonprofit organizations.
Underwood said Tuesday that her investigation found “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more.”
“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” she added in a statement.
The shuttering comes after The Washington Post documented apparent lapses at the foundation. Trump used the charity’s money to pay legal settlements for his private business, to purchase art for one of his clubs and to make a prohibited political donation.
Trump denied that the organization had done anything wrong. In late 2016, he said he wanted to close the foundation before he became president to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest. But the New York attorney general blocked that move while the investigation continued.
Alan Futerfas, an attorney for the Trump Foundation, issued a statement criticizing Underwood for “politicizing” the agreement.
“The Foundation has been seeking to dissolve and distribute its remaining assets to worthwhile charitable causes since Donald J. Trump’s victory in the 2016 Presidential election,” Futerfas said. “Unfortunately, the NYAG sought to prevent dissolution for almost two years, thereby depriving those most in need” of the foundation’s money, he said.
Futerfas said that, over its life, the foundation had given away about $19 million, including $8.25 million donated by Trump himself. The rest of the money came from other donors, notably pro-wrestling moguls Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave $5 million. Trump later chose Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration.
As part of its agreement with the attorney general’s office, the foundation will be required to sell its remaining assets and donate the proceeds, said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Underwood.
That includes a Denver Broncos football helmet signed by former quarterback Tim Tebow, which Trump bought at a charity auction in 2012 with $12,000 in Trump Foundation money. The charity also owns two large portraits of Trump, for which Trump paid a combined $30,000 in foundation money.
Trump now values the three items — for which he spent $42,000 in charity money — at a combined $975, according to a recent Internal Revenue Service filing.
The attorney general’s suit alleges that Trump used his charity’s money as his own piggy bank — including to help his presidential campaign by paying for giveaways at Iowa rallies.
“The Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments to not-for-profits from Mr. Trump or the Trump Organization,” Underwood wrote in the initial suit.
The Post’s reporting showed that, for years, Trump appeared to use the foundation — which was, by law, an independent entity — to make payments that bolstered his interests.
The largest donation in the charity’s history — a $264,231 gift to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989 — appeared to benefit Trump’s business: It paid to restore a fountain outside Trump’s Plaza Hotel. The smallest, a $7 foundation gift to the Boy Scouts that same year, appeared to benefit Trump’s family. It matched the amount required to enroll a boy in the Scouts the year that his son Donald Trump Jr. was 11.
The attorney general’s investigation turned up evidence that Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump — all listed as officers of the charity — had never held a board meeting. The board hadn’t met since 1999. The charity’s official treasurer, Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg, told investigators that he wasn’t aware that he was on the board.
State investigators asked him what the foundation’s policies were to determine whether its payments were proper.
“There’s no policy, just so you understand,” Weisselberg said.
It’s a little sad that nobody ever went after this charity until Trump ran for President. Maybe that’s why he thinks he can get away with the things he does — because nobody has ever stopped him before.