8 Major Takeaways From the Trump Foundation Lawsuit

After a two-year investigation into President Donald Trump’s personal charity, New York has discovered exactly what the rest of the country had assumed: The Trump Foundation been nothing more than a decades-long slush fund for the president and his family.

Last week, New York’s acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a civil suit against the commander in chief, citing “persistently illegal conduct” at the foundation.

Here’s everything you need to know about the findings:

1. The attorney general called it a personal “checkbook” for the Trump family.

According to New York Daily News:

“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses 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.”

2. If the suit stands, the charity will be disbanded and the president will owe millions.

The  Washington Post reports:

In the suit, Attorney General Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties. Underwood also asked that Trump be banned from leading any other New York nonprofit organization for 10 years — seeking to apply a penalty usually reserved for the operators of small-time charity frauds to the president of the United States.

3. Trump used the foundation to pay other business and legal expenses.

As CNN reports:

The suit contends that the Trump Foundation used the tax-deductible donations in at least five instances that benefited Trump or businesses he controls. These instances include a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The lawsuit contains a note from Donald Trump, which alleges that he personally directed his accounting staff to draw the $100,000 payment from the assets of the foundation to pay a legal settlement at his resort. Any personal, legal or business transactions, not having to do with the charity, should have been made from his personal or business accounts.

The suit also alleges a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Trump National Golf Club in 2008 from a 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.

4. The 2016 presidential campaign illegally used the foundation as an outside political arm.

According to the New York Times:

The foundation was also used to curry political favor, the lawsuit asserts. During the 2016 race, the foundation became a virtual arm of Mr. Trump’s campaign, email traffic showed, with his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, directing its expenditures, even though such foundations are explicitly prohibited from political activities.

5. That could lead to federal charges with the FEC.

The Times reports:

The $2.8 million raised for the foundation amounted to illegal and undisclosed in-kind donations that exceeded the federal contribution limit of $5,400 per election cycle per person.

And Ms. Underwood’s lawsuit says that the communication between the campaign and the foundation represented a violation of rules barring campaigns from coordinating with nonprofit groups or other entities in the spending of funds. The referral to the F.E.C. also asks it to investigate a $25,000 donation made by the foundation in 2013 to a nonprofit that was devoted to helping the political prospects of an ally of Mr. Trump.

6. It didn’t even have a board.

According to Vox:

The lawsuit alleges that the Trump Foundation board “existed in name only,” abjectly failing to fulfill it responsibilities to oversee the charity. The board hadn’t met since 1999 — nearly two decades ago. This is even more bizarre because Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump all allegedly joined the board in 2006, according to the lawsuit. In another instance, Allen Weisselberg, a Trump Organization employee and the person listed as the treasurer of the Trump Foundation, was unaware he was even a member of the board when an investigator questioned him, the Washington Post reported.

7. And that means Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr. are in trouble, too.

The Hill reports:

The lawsuit doesn’t just target Trump — three of his children, Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., who make up the three other members of the Trump Foundation’s board of directors — also face allegations of wrongdoing. Notable is what the lawsuit alleges they didn’t do: The complaint states that the board didn’t hold a formal meeting for at least 18 years, from 1999 until 2017, in violation of state law. The complaint also argues that the Trumps didn’t fulfill their fiduciary and legal responsibilities as members of the board by failing to rein in the foundation’s founder — their father.

8. But the president may try to avoid federal charges by claiming ignorance.

The New York Times adds:

Republican campaign finance lawyers mostly declined to comment for attribution on the case, though several said that the best defense for the Trump Foundation and campaign may be that they simply didn’t know the laws, and therefore couldn’t knowingly and willfully violate them.

Photo Credit: Arlington National Cemetery/Flickr


Shirley Plowman
Shirley Plowman2 months ago

he has been a crook openly for years!!!!!

S M2 months ago

The bare facedness of it knows no bounds! And now he rules the world when one adds America’s arrogance in their claim of leading the world and their provocations of violence and intrigue in controlling sovereign nations.

Solomon O'donnell
Solomon O'donnell2 months ago

the rich, no matter what government, no matter what political party have the same agendas: destroy the Earth, subjegate their people, and ruin their people's lives and prosperity with increased taxes and inflation.

Solomon O'Donnell for President
in a Perfect Society, pollution will no longer be a decision by the rich man, but by the Government of The People, by The People, and for The People!!!!!!

the "business" of the rich man is killing all life on Earth

Chad A
Chad Anderson2 months ago

Thank you.

Winnie A
Winn A2 months ago

tRUMP is the liar and criminal in chief. He is a plague on America and the world.

Peggy B
Peggy B3 months ago

Renata B... you're correct, but Trump has been getting away with claiming ignorance since he became President.

Renata B
Renata B3 months ago

Italy had a similar "leader" in the past: Berlusconi (not that Grill is any better by the way). He had become (and the country with it) an international joke. The US is following closely in its steps. Unfortunately the difference of power between the two countries is staggering and this Trump man is destroying everything. The similarities between Berlusconi and Trump are amazing and give shivers. Italy - thanks to Berlusconi - has plunged in depression and economists say it may take at least 100 years to recover from the damages of that man. The US is following suit.

Renata B
Renata B3 months ago

As far as I know "ignorance" is not accepted as a justification by the law.

Renata B
Renata B3 months ago

Ignorance: well he has plenty! He doesn't even know the lyrics of his national anthem! I wonder how much lower the US will have to fall before it rid itself from this cancer.

Debbi W
Debbi W3 months ago

Of course trump will claim ignorance of anything he's done. That's what he's been doing all along with the Russia mess, and he was recorded asking Russians to hack onto Hillary's email.

He lies about everything else, why wouldn't he lie about that? Does any believe his claim to being a genius?