The Trump Foundation Will Shut Down As A Lawsuit Points To "Shocking" Legal Issues
It's not just the federal Russia investigation questioning the legality President Donald Trump's actions. New York's attorney general has been investigating the family's foundation — and on Tuesday, it was announced that the president agreed to shut it down while lawsuits continue. The Donald J. Trump Foundation, the president's charity, is being dissolved, and all its remaining donations are being given away under supervision to "reputable" organizations.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced the news in a statement on Twitter Tuesday morning. The agreement is a result of a lawsuit that her office brought against the foundation. The resulting stipulation, as the agreement is legally called, was signed by both the attorney general and a lawyer representing the foundation; it lays out the terms under which the charity must be shut down. It was submitted to the courts on Tuesday and is awaiting the judge's signature.
Underwood presented the news as a sign that her lawsuit against the foundation was progressing. It was allowed to proceed last month and seeks millions in restitution and penalties. Underwood also seeks to keep President Trump and his three oldest children from joining the boards of any other charities in the state through the suit.
"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 said in a statement Tuesday. "This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests."
Explaining how the shutdown will work, Underwood said in her statement that it will all be under judicial supervision. "It can only distribute its remaining charitable assets to reputable organizations approved by my office," Underwood said. There remains about $1.75 million to be distributed, The Washington Post reported.
The paper detailed the donations that had been made by the foundation — all of which could be seen to benefit the Trump businesses or family. The Post reported that the largest donation ever was to the Central Park Conservancy in 1989, which paid for the refurbishment of a fountain in front of a Trump property. The smallest, $7, was given to Boy Scouts and is also the cost to enroll a child; at the time Don Jr. was 11.
Political ethics groups also commented, condemning the misuse of the charitable organization. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement provided to Bustle:
The Donald J. Trump Foundation has abused the rules governing non-profit charitable foundations and admitted to breaking the law. It apparently operated for the sole purpose of benefiting Donald Trump. CREW filed complaints calling for investigations into the Foundation for improper political activity, lying on its tax returns, and self-dealing to benefit Donald Trump, among other problems. It is good to see this fraud is finally over.
Underwood promised to push forward with her lawsuit following the agreement to dissolve. "This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone," Underwood said in Tuesday's statement. "We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law."
The foundation is only one of many Trump-linked groups currently being investigated.