The charitable foundation of President Donald Trump has agreed to dissolve following a lawsuit by the Attorney General of New York, who alleges that the real estate mogul used his foundation to help his 2016 presidential campaign and his businesses.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation Agreement with New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood is in the wake of June’s lawsuit against the foundation, Donald Trump and three of his children for fraudulent use of funds.
The agreement must now be approved by a New York State Judge.
“This is an important victory for the rule of law, which clearly shows that there is a single set of rules for all,” said the prosecutor in a statement.
According to the New York State Attorney General, the 21-month investigation by his predecessor Eric Schneiderman uncovered “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation,” including “widespread illegal political coordination.” Between the foundation and Donald Trump’s campaign team, as well as “repeated interested transactions” for the personal and professional interests of the billionaire.
Earlier this year, Barbara Underwood claimed that the president had illegally used his charitable foundation as a “checkbook”.
Legally, charitable foundations are exempt from taxes, but in exchange they must abide by strict rules, including the prohibition of getting involved in political campaigns.
Donald Trump’s lawyers criticized Underwood for “politicizing” the deal with their client, adding that the president had sought to dissolve the foundation since his election.
The court documents state that the money remaining in the foundation’s coffers – $ 1.75 million – will be distributed to charitable organizations that will receive approval from the prosecutor’s office and a state judge.
The agreement provides that the foundation sells its remaining assets to give the proceeds of the sale, said a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.
In June, Donald Trump had argued on Twitter that he would not settle the case amicably, denouncing “a ridiculous affair”, engineered by “sordid New York Democrats”.
Even before he took office in December 2016, he announced his intention to dissolve his foundation, saying he wanted to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Targeted by court proceedings, the foundation was ordered by the Attorney General of New York at the time to stop collecting donations.
Justice is on its way
The closure of the foundation is an important step in the investigation, but does not put an end to the lawsuit.
The Attorney General of New York still claims compensation of US $2.8 million and additional unspecified penalties.
It also seeks to ban President Trump and his three oldest children from serving on the boards of other New York charities.
Barbara Underwood had already indicated that she had conveyed her findings to the Federal Election Commission and the US Revenue Agency.
The agreement between the two parties was reached less than a month after the New York Supreme Court dismissed the president’s motion to quash the lawsuit. His lawyers argued that the Constitution protects a sitting president from prosecution.
In a series of articles, the Washington Post had already revealed that Donald Trump had drawn from his foundation’s funds to settle his business, buy works of art for one of his clubs and make an illegal political donation.
According to the newspaper, the remaining assets include a Denver Broncos football helmet signed by a former quarterback, bought for $12,000 by Donald Trump at a charity auction in 2012, as well as two large portraits of his own, for which he and his wife Melania paid a combined $30,000.
President Trump is now estimating at $975 these three items, paid with the money from his foundation, according to a recent statement to the US Revenue Agency.
The attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia are also suing the president , alleging that he violated the constitution by maintaining ties to his global business empire.
A few days ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that Manhattan federal prosecutors were investigating donations received by Donald Trump’s nomination committee. Their investigation aims to determine whether some wealthy donors have paid money in exchange for access to members of his administration or policies that serve their interests.
In 2017, the president also agreed to pay $25 million to more than 4,000 students as part of a fraud lawsuit against his university.
Not to mention the work of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possibly colluding with Donald Trump’s campaign team.
Recently, his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to more than three years in prison , including for violating election financing rules by buying the silence of two women who claim to have had liaisons with Donald Trump. The former confidant of the president claimed to have acted on his request.
His former National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, is awaiting the sentence he will be charged for lying to the Special Prosecutor Mueller’s team.
When they resume control of the House of Representatives next January, the Democrats will also recover the investigative power of its powerful commissions on the actions of the president and his administration. Possible collusion with Russia, unpaid taxes, corruption and ethical issues: Democrats are likely to find information damaging to the president.
Andrea Saunders is a reporter for Buffalo Morning Star. She’s worked and interned at Huffington Post and The Buffalo News. Andrea is based in Buffalo and covers issues affecting her city. In addition to her severe ice cream addiction, she’s a Netflix enthusiast and a voracious reader.