The Donald J. Trump Foundation and the Trump family engaged in self-dealing and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign and committed numerous violations of campaign finance laws, the New York State attorney general’s office said in a lawsuit filed Thursday on the president's 72nd birthday.
Named in the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood against the Donald J. Trump Foundation are its directors, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump.
The lawsuit alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit President Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations.
The Attorney General initiated a special proceeding to dissolve the Trump Foundation under court supervision and obtain restitution of $2.8 million and additional penalties.
The AG’s lawsuit also seeks a ban from future service as a director of a New York not-for-profit of 10 years for President Trump and one year for each of the Foundation’s other board members, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.
The Attorney General also sent referral letters today to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission, identifying possible violations of federal law for further investigation and legal action by those federal agencies.
The lawsuit says President Trump used the Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses, and to purchase personal items, including, in one case, a $10,000 painting of Trump.
In addition, at Donald Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency, including in the days before the Iowa nominating caucuses.
“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.”
Trump quickly fired back on Twitter late Thursday morning, saying "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!
"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."
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