‘Persistently Illegal Conduct’: Trump Ordered To Pay $2M In Damages For Taking Money From Charity To Pay Himself
A New York judge has ordered President Trump to pay $2 million in damages for taking money donated to veterans and using it to pay debts for his 2016 campaign, his for-profit businesses, and to buy himself art, according to court documents.
The lawsuit, settled by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla, alleged “persistently illegal conduct” at the tax-exempt Donald J. Trump Foundation, where Trump presided for 32 years, Washington Post reported.
Trump admitted he misspent the money in seven instances. As part of the settlement, he agreed to close the foundation and give $1.8 million left in its coffers to charities including the United Negro College Fund, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Children’s Aid Society.
The judge focused on a 2016 fundraiser in Iowa that Trump promoted as an event supporting veterans where $2.8 million was donated to the foundation. However, the money was controlled by the campaign. Trump eventually gave that amount to veterans’ charities but the campaign allocated the funds, not the charity, according to New York Daily News.
“Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation,” the judge wrote in an order.
The settlement was a major victory, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement.
“No one is above the law,” James tweeted.
On social media, there was mad applause.
“The Mobster ConMan is actually suffering Consequences for his Law Breaking. About time,” a Twitter user responded.
“Just make sure he pays, and with funds that belong to him personally, not with campaign funds from GOP,” another tweeted.
Trump’s three oldest children were supposed to oversee the foundation’s spending and were also named in the original lawsuit. Ivanka, Donald Jr. and Eric were board members at the Trump Foundation, which did not actually meet for 19 years, from 1999 to 2018. They were dismissed from the case but had to take a training class on how to be better board members.
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“The Trump Foundation has shut down, funds that were illegally misused are being restored, the president will be subject to ongoing supervision by my office, and the Trump children had to undergo compulsory training to ensure this type of illegal activity never takes place again,” James said.
Trump blamed James for what he said was a “politically motivated” lawsuit. The suit was actually filed by James’ predecessor, Barbara Underwood, an unelected career official who took over after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) resigned.
The Washington Post has been reporting since 2016 on alleged wrongdoing at the Trump Foundation after a Post reporter saw Trump give away a Trump Foundation check during a campaign rally. Federal law prohibits using money from charities to help political campaigns.
In a 2018 tweet, Trump appeared to whine about not getting credit for all the money he says he gave to charity. “The Trump Foundation has done great work and given away lots of money, both mine and others, to great charities over the years — with me taking NO fees, rent, salaries etc… Now, as usual, I am getting slammed by (Gov.) Cuomo and the Dems in a long-running civil lawsuit.”
Anyone examining the president’s alleged crimes could prosecute him as soon as his term is over, GQ reported. The day after he leaves the White House could be a very busy one for the outgoing commander-in-chief. Unless the Supreme Court rules otherwise, attorneys general and prosecutors can keep building cases against Trump until his status as president of the United States is no longer an impediment to holding him accountable.