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18 Dec, 2018 23:41

Trump Foundation charity agrees to dissolve after lawsuit alleging Trump used it as a 'checkbook'

Trump Foundation charity agrees to dissolve after lawsuit alleging Trump used it as a 'checkbook'

The US president's charitable Trump Foundation is being forced to dissolve under the supervision of the New York Attorney General. The Defense argues that the case against the charity has been politicized.

Calling it "an important victory for the rule of law," NY AG Barbara Underwood praised the agreement, in which her office will oversee the distribution of $1.75 million in Foundation cash to charities approved by a state judge.

Filed in June, the lawsuit alleges that Trump and his children used the Trump Foundation as "little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's business and political interests," appropriating money to pay legal bills, fund his presidential campaign, and promote his hotels, in what the lawsuit calls "persistently illegal conduct."

Trump Foundation attorney Alan Futerfas accused Underwood of "politicizing" the settlement, suggesting the lawsuit itself was the only thing holding the Foundation back from appropriately liquidating its assets to benefit "those most in need."

"The Foundation has been seeking to dissolve and distribute its remaining assets to worthwhile charitable causes since Donald J. Trump's victory in the 2016 Presidential election," he said in a statement issued in response to the AG's proclamation. His argument that Underwood's lawsuit is politically motivated was rejected in court last month when a judge denied a motion to dismiss.

Underwood clarified that it wasn't enough to simply wind down the Foundation – her office insisted it be dissolved under government oversight to ensure its assets went to "reputable organizations." 

"Given the Trump Foundation's egregious pattern of illegality – including repeatedly using charitable assets for unlawful purposes – that was unacceptable," she said in a second statement in reply to Futerfas. The Foundation has 30 days to submit a list of non-profits to receive its assets, which her office must approve.

The AG's probe found that not only had the Foundation's board not met since 1999, its treasurer, Allen Weisselberg, was not even aware he was on the board at all. When asked about its policies, Weisselberg said: "There's no policy, just so you understand."

While the case carries no criminal penalties, the AG seeks $2.8 million in restitution and has asked the judge to bar all three of the oldest Trump children from serving on charity boards for the next 10 years. Underwood has also passed on the results of her office's investigation to the IRS and Federal Election Commission.

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