Donald Trump cheated in the 2016 election in more ways than one. The president has just forfeited $2 million in court-ordered damages payable to eight different charities to settle fraud charges arising out of the 2016 election.
New York Attorney General Letitia James today (Dec. 10) announced the payment for illegally misusing charitable funds at the Trump Foundation for political purposes.
“Not only has the Trump Foundation shut down for its misconduct, but the president has been forced to pay $2 million for misusing charitable funds for his own political gain,” James said in a statement.
“Charities are not a means to an end, which is why these damages speak to the president’s abuse of power and represent a victory for not-for-profits that follow the law.”
In June a year ago, Trump, daughter Ivanka and sons Donald Jr. and Eric Trump were sued by New York State for using the Trump Foundation as a personal and political slush fund in what the state called “persistent illegal conduct.”
The suit alleged the illegal conduct occurred over more than a decade involving “extensive unlawful political coordination” with the Trump presidential campaign.
The actions included repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations, according to the lawsuit.
Trump, of course, claimed he did nothing wrong and vowed to fight the charges.
Last month, a New York state judge ordered Trump to pay $2 million to the nonprofit organizations as part of a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office, according to CNN.
Justice Saliann Scarpulla found that “Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation.”
He allowed his campaign to “orchestrate” a televised fundraiser ostensibly for the foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016, and directed the distribution of the money raised from that event “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
Trump campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits, as evidenced by communications between campaign staff and Foundation representatives–a violation of state and federal law.
Even more damning for the President, the lawsuit states that he personally made all of the foundation’s spending decisions without consulting the board of directors. In fact, the board existed in name only, the investigation found. It stopped meeting in 1999.
The judge stopped short of banning Trump and his children from serving on the boards of any other New York nonprofit. She also declined to order Trump to pay punitive damages.
The funds collected from Trump were distributed to eight credible charities: the Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of National Capital Area, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Additionally, Trump was forced to reimburse the foundation for $11,525 spent on sports paraphernalia and champagne for a charity gala. Each charity ended up receiving $476,140.
Trump was also required to agree to 19 admissions, acknowledging his personal misuse of Trump Foundation founds, and agreed to restrictions on future charitable service and ongoing reporting to the Office of the Attorney General, in the event he creates a new charity.
The settlement also included mandatory training requirements for Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump, which the three children have already undergone.
Finally, the settlement required the Trump Foundation to shutter its doors last December and dissolve under court supervision.
“My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the president of the United States,” James said.
The stunning legal case is the result of a 21-month investigation begun by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned over sexual misconduct allegations in May. The suit was announced on Trump’s 72nd birthday.