Facing questions, Donald Trump lawyer defends fundraising for veterans

Trump campaign defends veteran donations
Trump campaign defends veteran donations

    JUST WATCHED

    Trump campaign defends veteran donations

MUST WATCH

Trump campaign defends veteran donations 02:09

Story highlights

  • Trump's campaign is facing questions over where money raised for veterans was distributed
  • A Trump lawyer told CNN's "New Day" the funds were "distributed to worthy causes"

(CNN)An attorney for Donald Trump said Tuesday that money raised for veterans has been "distributed to worthy causes" as he defended the campaign from reports it was unable to account for all the funds promised to charities.

Trump counsel Michael Cohen spoke to CNN's "New Day" to rebut reports, including by CNN, that the campaign exaggerated funds raised at a charity event for veterans last January, which Trump hosted instead of participating in a Fox News presidential debate the same night.
    "How sad is that? Donald Trump who goes ahead and raises -- whether it is 4, 5, 6 million, whatever the number is -- a guy who has clearly shown himself who is interested and cares very deeply for our American veterans," Cohen said.
    "Right now it is 4 or 5 million," he continued. "Whatever the exact number may be, that's a lot of money for one person to raise, which he did as a result of electing to skip a debate that he knew was going to be unfair to him. So if he blames the liberal media, he is justified."
    "New Day" host Chris Cuomo pushed back, saying, "All we've asked for is where the money is."
    "I ask you, where is the money?" Cuomo pressed. "Who did you give it to? You can't tell me."
    But Cohen -- who argued in response that "we do tell you, but it's not enough" -- insisted that the campaign was handling donations properly.
    "Whatever money came in, Donald Trump has distributed to worthy causes," he said.
    Despite Trump's repeated claims that the event netted $6 million for veterans' charities, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told CNN on Friday that the amount raised was less than $6 million, adding that he did not "know the exact number." Lewandowski also spoke to the Washington Post for a report on the fundraiser over the weekend, adding to the uncertainty over the numbers.
    And in March, CNN reported that just $2.9 million had been distributed, with the majority of the money coming through donations from either Trump's foundation or the foundations of two of his friends, businessman Carl Icahn and pharmaceutical billionaire Stewart J. Rahr.
    Additionally, on Monday, a group of veterans protested outside Trump Tower in New York City, demanding answers to questions about the fundraiser.
    Early Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted his response, writing, "While under no obligation to do so, I have raised between 5 & 6 million dollars, including 1 million dollars from me, for our VETERANS. Nice!"
    He added that "much of the money I have raised for our veterans has already been distributed, with the rest to go shortly to various other veteran groups," but complained that in response, "I have got nothing but bad publicity from the dishonest and disgusting media."
    On "New Day," Cohen suggested that the discrepancy between Trump's claims of $6 million raised and the campaign's accounting was the result a lack of follow up with donors who had pledged.
    "He went ahead and raised millions of dollars for veterans and veterans causes, but unfortunately, people have not sent in their pledges yet. For whatever the reason may be, maybe it has to do with their taxes," he said.
    Cuomo replied, "Whatever it is, you said you raised the money, and I ask where it is and you blame me? Come on."
    But Cohen was unmoved, repeating, "When it comes in, Donald Trump will distribute it to the worthy causes."