New York's Attorney General has alleged Donald Trump used his charity’s money to help his businesses and himself. Trump attacked the claim, saying he would not settle, but the list of claims against him is piling up.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Thursday filed a lawsuit with the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, US President Donald Trump and his three eldest children.
Underwood wrote in a legal complaint presented to the court that the foundation had engaged in "extensive unlawful political coordination" with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and had undertaken "persistent illegal conduct" for over a decade.
Underwood, who has jurisdiction over the foundation because it is based at Trump Tower in Manhattan and registered in New York State, said a 20-month state investigation had found multiple violations of both state and federal law.
She cited two cases in which the foundation had allegedly flouted tax office rules prohibiting tax-exempt foundations from sponsoring political campaigns.
"As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality," the New York attorney general said.
Calls to dissolve the foundation
Underwood asked the court to dissolve the foundation and order the reallocation of $1 million (€850,000) of its assets to other charities. She also asked that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties and that the sitting president be banned from heading up any other New York nonprofit organization for 10 years.
Trump's children, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka and Eric, were named in the lawsuit as official board members of the foundation. The complaint said they had exercised no oversight and noted that the board had not met since 1999. It called for them to be banned from heading any other New York nonprofit organization for a year.
Trump tweets back
Trump, who set up the foundation in 1987, attacked the lawsuit in several tweets blaming Democrat politicians.
"I won't settle this case!" he wrote in one of the tweets.
The Trump Foundation later issued a statement slamming the lawsuit as "politics at its very worst" and accused Underwood of holding $1.7 million of its remaining funds "hostage for political gain."
Comey 'insubordinate,' but no 'bias'
Meanwhile, a Justice Department report published on Thursday called the ousted ex-FBI director James Comey "insubordinate" in his handling of a probe into Trump’s 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Though the report said there was no evidence of political bias in the FBI's Clinton email probe, it said that Comey had repeatedly bypassed agency rules and procedures.
Both the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump camps had accused Comey of handling investigations into Clinton and then Trump in a politicized manner.
jbh/msh (Reuters, AFP)