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Trump charity misuse costs him $2m

Trump attacked what he described as 'the political hacks in New York State' in a defiant statement posted on Twitter

By Alan Feuer/ New York Times News Service in New York

  • Published 9.11.19, 1:19 AM
  • Updated 14.04.20, 9:22 PM
Donald Trump
Donald Trump (AP)

A state judge ordered President Trump to pay $2 million in damages to nonprofit groups on Thursday after the President admitted misusing money raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation to promote his presidential bid, pay off business debts and purchase a portrait of himself for one of his hotels.

The damage award brought an end to a protracted legal battle over the foundation, whose giving patterns and management became a flash point during Trump’s run for office in 2016. New York’s attorney-general had filed suit last year accusing Trump and his family of using the foundation as an extension of his businesses and his presidential campaign.

The settlement, which was finalised last month and announced on Thursday in the judge’s order, included a detailed admission of misconduct that is rare for the President, who has long employed a scorched-earth approach towards fighting lawsuits.

Among Trump’s admissions in court papers: The charity gave his campaign complete control over disbursing the $2.8 million that the foundation had raised at a fundraiser for veterans in Iowa in January 2016, only days before the state’s presidential nominating caucuses. The fundraiser, he said, was in fact a campaign event.

The President also admitted to using the foundation to settle the legal obligations of companies he owned, including Mar-a-Lago, his private club in Florida, and the Trump National Golf Club in Westchester county, New York. And he acknowledged that the foundation purchased the $10,000 portrait of Trump, which was ultimately displayed at one of his Florida hotels.

Though he had admitted wrongdoing in court papers, Trump attacked what he described as “the political hacks in New York State” in a defiant statement posted on Twitter on Thursday night, claiming that the foundation had given “100 per cent of the funds to great charities” and that he had suffered “4 years of politically motivated harassment” by the attorney-general’s office.

“All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations,” he wrote. Once billed as the charitable arm of the President’s financial empire, the Trump Foundation closed its doors in December, six months after the attorney-general’s office sued, saying the foundation was acting “as little more than a chequebook to serve Trump’s business.