President Donald Trump defended his personal charitable foundation and lashed out at the New York attorney general’s office for its civil lawsuit against the nonprofit one day after the charity agreed to dissolve under judicial supervision.
In several tweets Wednesday morning, Trump made a series of claims, many misleading, concerning the Donald J. Trump Foundation – which the attorney general’s lawsuit alleges violated campaign-finance laws, abused its tax-exempt status and engaged in unlawful coordination with Trump’s presidential campaign – and about the attorney general’s office itself.
“The Trump Foundation has done great work and given away lots of money, both mine and others, to great charities over the years – with me taking NO fees, rent, salaries etc,” Trump said.
The Washington Post and others have found that Trump donated little of his personal money to the charity after 2006, and the attorney general’s lawsuit accuses the foundation of self-dealing. In one instance, for example, $100,000 from the nonprofit was used to settle legal claims against his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, according to the lawsuit.
Trump additionally claimed Wednesday that the lawsuit was politically motivated. “Now, as usual, I am getting slammed by Cuomo and the Dems in a long running civil lawsuit started by … sleazebag AG Eric Schneiderman, who has since resigned over horrific women abuse, when I wanted to close the Foundation so as not to be in conflict with politics,” Trump tweeted.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has played no role in the lawsuit, and while former New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who stepped down earlier this year after several women accused him of violent behavior, oversaw the office during months of investigation into the foundation, the lawsuit was brought by Schneiderman’s successor and the current occupant of the office, Barbara Underwood, also a Democrat.
In their motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the defendants in the case – Trump and his three eldest children, Eric, Donald Jr. and Ivanka – claimed political bias on the part of the attorney general’s office. The judge overseeing the case ruled last month that it could proceed, denying the motion to dismiss.
On Tuesday, the foundation agreed to dissolve under judicial supervision, according to a document the attorney general’s office filed in court, and allow the attorney general’s office to review the recipients of the charity’s assets, which stood at about $1.7 million, according to its most recent tax return. An attorney for the foundation, Alan Futerfas, said Tuesday that the charity had been seeking to disband since Trump’s election.
The agreement doesn’t resolve the entirety of the lawsuit, which will proceed into the new year.
Schneiderman wasn’t the only target of Trump’s animus. In his tweet series, he went on to attack both Underwood and the attorney general-elect who will replace her in January, Letitia James, although Trump didn’t refer to either by name.
“In any event, it goes on and on & the new AG, who is now being replaced by yet another AG (who openly campaigned on a GET TRUMP agenda), does little else but rant, rave & politic against me. Will never be treated fairly by these people - a total double standard of ‘justice,” he wrote.
In response, a spokeswoman for Underwood, Amy Spitalnick, said that “AG Underwood believes that there should be one set of rules for everyone – no matter who they are. That’s why she filed suit against the Trump Foundation, after an investigation found a shocking pattern of flagrant and repeated illegality – including willful self-dealing to serve Mr. Trump and his business and political interests.”
James’s political campaign was, in fact, focused largely on Trump, and she has pledged to use the attorney general’s office to pursue him and his family members. A spokeswoman for James didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.