President Trump’s sham charity, the Trump Foundation, has agreed to dissolve as it contends with a lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general’s office earlier this year. The dissolution will take place under judicial supervision, and the attorney general will review and approve how its remaining assets are dispersed. “Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more,” Barbara Underwood, the state’s interim attorney general, wrote in a statement. “This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
New York state attorney general on Trump’s charity pic.twitter.com/Zve93Anrkl
— Josh Lederman (@JoshNBCNews) December 18, 2018
The lawsuit, which followed a two-year investigation and charged the foundation with a host of illegal activities, will proceed despite the foundation no longer existing. Trump’s attorneys have tried to argue that the lawsuit was politically motivated, but last month a judge ruled that it could continue. Now that the foundation will be dissolved, the state will seek $2.8 million in restitution, additional penalties and a ban on Trump and Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump from serving on the board of any other New York-based non-profit. “This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood continued. “We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”
The Trump Foundation has been under intense scrutiny since Trump announced he would seek the presidency. Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold uncovered so much corruption in the charity that he won a Pulitzer Prize for his work in 2017. His pieces covered Trump using his foundation to do everything from pay off his own legal debts, to purchase a six-foot-tall portrait of himself for $20,000.
After the attorney general’s office announced that the foundation had agreed to dissolve on Tuesday, Fahrenthold reminded his Twitter followers of the extraordinary breadth of how Trump used his supposed charity. In 1989, he used it to pay the $7 Boy Scout admission fee for Donald Jr. Its largest gift was over a quarter of a million dollars to renovate a fountain outside of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) December 18, 2018
Underwood is only filling the role of attorney general until attorney general-elect Letitia James takes over next month. The transfer of power doesn’t mean the legal pressure against Trump and his family will let up. In her first interview since being elected in November, James told NBC News that her office “will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well.” Among the probes and potential probes James said she will pursue was the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, which doesn’t bode well for any plans the Trump family may have to get involved in the New York non-profit world.