Trumps In Chains - Lock Them Up!
2020-05-13 00:33:25 UTC
I have some shocking news: An organization with Trump in its name has
run into trouble with the law. Who could have imagined?
On Thursday, the New York attorney generals office filed a lawsuit
targeting the Trump Foundation. The Posts David A. Fahrenthold reports:
The New York attorney general filed suit against President Trump and
his three eldest children Thursday, alleging persistently illegal
conduct at the presidents personal charity, saying Trump repeatedly
misused the nonprofit organization to pay off his businesses creditors,
to decorate one of his golf clubs and to stage a multimillion-dollar
giveaway at his 2016 campaign events.
In the suit, filed Thursday morning, 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 said that oversight of spending at Trumps foundation was so
loose that its board of directors hadnt met in 19 years, and its official
treasurer wasnt even aware that he was on the board.
Instead, she said, the foundation came to serve the spending needs of
Trump and then, in 2016, the needs of his presidential campaign. She
cited emails from Trump campaign staff members, directing which charities
should receive gifts from the Trump Foundation, and in what amounts.
Fahrenthold and other reporters have previously uncovered some of the
facts that figure in the lawsuit, but theres damning new information,
too, related specifically to an event to raise money for veterans that
Trump held before the Iowa caucuses. According to the suit, the foundation
brought in $2.8 million at that event, then essentially turned it over to
the campaign to decide how it should be disbursed. They have emails from
Corey Lewandowski, then Trumps campaign manager, directing where the
money should be be donated. The suit charges that this amounted to an
illegal in-kind contribution to the campaign.
There are two levels of context one needs to understand this lawsuit. The
first level is that much of what weve learned about the Trump Foundation
suggests that it was basically a scam, a way for Trump to make shady
contributions, pay his debts with other peoples money and do things such
as buy a gigantic painting of himself.
For instance, Trump had to pay a fine when it was discovered that the
foundation made an illegal $25,000 contribution to a political group
connected to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who just happened to be
deciding at the time whether to pursue a fraud investigation into Trump
University, which she most agreeably decided not to do. Not only was the
contribution itself illegal charitable foundations arent allowed to
donate to political groups it was hidden when the foundation reported on
its tax forms that the contribution had instead gone to a legitimate
nonprofit in Kansas with a similar name, to which they had actually given
no money. In other cases, the foundation was used to pay legal settlements
for Trump himself.
The second level of context is that, in all this, the Trump Foundation
isnt much different from everything else Trump did during his business
career. The only reason nobody knew what the Trump Foundation really was
before Trump ran for president was that no one had bothered to look. Once
they did, it immediately became apparent that, while it might do something
legitimate here or there, at its core, the foundation looks a lot like a
You might say the same about Trumps entire business career. As Ive
argued before, Trump wasnt just a guy who skated close to the line a time
or two or broke a few rules. In fact, when you add up the questionable
bankruptcies; the cons such as Trump University; the pyramid schemes; the
contacts with mobsters; the exploitation of foreign workers; the Trump
projects that have collapsed amid charges of double-dealing; the unusual
interest Russian oligarchs have in using Trump properties as a vehicle for
money laundering, and more, Donald Trump could well be the most corrupt
major business figure in America. So why would anyone expect his
foundation to be an above-board charity that does good work and would
never run afoul of the law?
If I had to predict, at this point, I would guess that President Trump and
his kids will try to settle this suit by paying a small fine. Though he
claims I wont settle this case! thats what he said about the Trump
University fraud lawsuit too, and he ended up paying a $25 million
settlement to his victims. So while the Trump Foundation may not send the
president to the slammer, this lawsuit will likely end up telling us a lot
about who he is and how he operates.