Following in the footsteps of Trump University, which was shut down in order to settle a court case that found it to be a giant fraud, The Trump family’s “charitable” foundation has also been shut down due to an investigation by the New York Attorney General and an ongoing lawsuit:
The Trump Foundation, a tiny New York outfit masquerading as a philanthropy but operating, essentially, as a personal piggy bank for the president of the United States, is no more.
Barbara Underwood, the New York state attorney general, announced on Tuesday that her office and the foundation signed a stipulation agreeing to dissolve Donald Trump’s long-standing but chronically underfunded gesture toward charitable giving. Trump launched his foundation in 1988 as a vehicle, he claimed, for distributing profits from his bestseller “The Art of the Deal” to needy causes, but the foundation was housed at his company, the Trump Organization, and had no dedicated staff or office space.
“Our petition detailed 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,” Underwood noted. “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
The details of what Trump’s “charity” foundation was doing with the donations they received show how the foundation was mainly being used as a way to pay business expenses for the Trump Organization:
As my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Francis Wilkinson has observed, the Trump Foundation’s single largest gift — $264,631 — was allotted toward renovating a fountain outside the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Trump owned the hotel. Underwood’s lawsuit also points out that Trump used foundation money to pay off legal obligations, promote his hotels and other businesses, and purchase goodies for himself. That list included a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort; a $158,000 payment to settle claims against the Trump National Golf Club from a 2008 lawsuit involving that course’s hole-in-one tournament; 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. (A reminder here of the seminal reporting from the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold that helped expose much of this, as well as earlier work — dating back to 2011 — from The Smoking Gun’s William Bastone.)
Besides using the foundation to pay business expenses for the Trump Organization, it was also used to assist with the Trump Campaign. One particular detail is especially heinous: the Trumps used a national event featuring military veterans to raise money for veterans charities. They then disbursed those funds specifically to groups in Iowa right before the Iowa caucus, in order to help the Trump Campaign:
The suit says that Underwood’s office discovered that the Trump Foundation raised more than $2.8 million that it used for the 2016 election, including donations Trump raised at a nationally televised event featuring military veterans that he held on Jan. 28, 2016, as an alternative to his participation in a presidential primary debate held in Iowa. “In violation of state and federal law, senior Trump campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts, and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits, as evidenced by communications between Campaign staff and Foundation representatives,” the attorney general’s office pointed out.
The New York Attorney General provided an e-mail from Trump’s Campaign Manager that showed their reasoning behind how the Trump Foundation had chosen which veteran’s charities would receive money:
If this funneling of donations to Trump businesses sounds familiar, it could be because there has also been recent news about an investigation into the Trump Inauguration Committee for doing exactly the same thing. Ivanka Trump looks to have embezzled inauguration funds by overpaying for services provided by the Trump Organization:
It looks like there may be another Trump family scandal on the horizon: According to a new investigation by WNYC and ProPublica, Ivanka Trump helped her dad’s inaugural committee pay the Trump Organization for various services during the president’s swearing-in — and may have overcharged for them.
The news comes a day after the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both reported independently that investigators are probing the inaugural committee, a registered non-profited, for possible illegalities. Bustle has reached out to the White House, the Trump Organization and a spokesperson for Ivanka’s ethics lawyer for comment.
According to WNYC and ProPublica, some of the $107 million that the inaugural committee raised was paid to the Trump Organization for hotel rooms, meals and event space during the inauguration. The report says that Ivanka played a key role in negotiating the prices of renting these spaces, and that one of the planners emailed her to “express my concern” that the Trump Organization was charging too much for rooms in its Washington D.C. hotel for the inauguration.
“Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge,” organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff told Ivanka, according to emails obtained by WYNC and ProPublica.
And it appears it wasn’t just Ivanka who may have been embezzling funds from Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Melania also looks to have gotten in on the action:
President Trump’s inaugural team paid a company created by Melania Trump’s advisor a whopping $26 million, according to tax returns released Thursday.
Watchdog groups and journalists have been trying to track down what happened to millions left over from money raised for the January 2017 inauguration — money that fundraisers promised would go to charity. It’s been a mystery until now.
The 116-page filing shows that the majority of the money raised went to pay for expenses related to the inauguration. But one of the largest payments — $25,843,509 for “event production services” — appears to have gone to WIS Media Partners of Marina del Rey, Calif., a company created by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a close friend of the first lady.
The New York Times reported Thursday that a person familiar with the firm’s records show that the firm was created in December 2016, with little information available about it.
The Trump family has now had two organizations, Trump University and the Trump Foundation, recently shuttered due to criminally fraudulent acts. The Trump Organization, the Trump Campaign, the Trump Transition Team, and the Trump Inaugural Committee are all currently under criminal investigation. Is there any way the Trump family cannot be accurately described as a crime family?