I know. This almost writes itself; you knew it was coming.
Donald Trump’s foundation appears to have done the very thing Trump accused Hillary Clinton of being corrupt over.
We already knew about the ongoing investigation into the Trump Foundation for self-dealing by the New York Attorney General, but David A. Fahrenthold struck again, having found that President-elect Donald Trump’s foundation admitted to the IRS that it used its charity money to help the leaders, their businesses or families.
At the risk of repeating myself, it’s called self-dealing.
“That admission was contained in the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s IRS tax filings for 2015, which were recently posted online at the nonprofit-tracking site GuideStar. A GuideStar spokesman said the forms were uploaded by the Trump Foundation’s law firm, Morgan, Lewis and Bockius,” Fahrenthold reported Tuesday in the Washington Post. Fahrenthold was alerted to the filing by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
Things get even stickier according to Philip Hackney, who told Fahrenthold that this disclosure leads to the question why it’s the first time the charity has admitted to self-dealing. “He said that, since the prior years’ returns were signed by Trump, that opened the president-elect to questions about what he had missed and how.”
Trump has not explained where the assets are that his foundation purchased for him, his wife, and others or how these situations were charity, other than a spokesperson claiming that his bar hanging a $10,000.00 picture of him purchased by the foundation was a favor for the charity, as it was providing storage. It’s unclear what transactions they are admitting to as self-dealing.
“These rules prohibit the trustees themselves, certain family members, managers, and other “disqualified persons” from benefiting from the philanthropic activities of the foundation,” explains the National Center for Family Philanthropy in a straightforward manner that can’t really be misinterpreted.
Now for the real punch in the gut. Donald Trump repeatedly called the Clinton Foundation the “most corrupt in political history.” Trump also called for it to be shut down, saying they were lining their own pockets (that is, self-dealing, which is what the Trump foundation just got caught admitting it did) and taking care of donors:
“Hillary Clinton is the defender of the corrupt and rigged status quo. The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people. It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history. What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as Secretary of State was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”
But Fahrenthold found that the Trump Foundation took a $150,000 gift from the foundation of Viktor Pinchuk, the fourth richest man in the Ukraine and an oil and gas pipe magnate.
Yes, that’s right – this is the same Pinchuk whose donations to the Clinton Foundation raised “questions” about conflicts of interest. The donation was made as part of an agreement for Trump to speak at a time when he was already a presidential candidate.
From the Washington Post’s Tuesday article:
“A spokesman for Pinchuk’s foundation said that the gift was made as part of an agreement for Trump to speak — via video link — to a conference Pinchuk organized in September 2015. The conference, called the Yalta European Strategy annual meeting, was held in Kiev. At the time of his 20-minute speech, titled ‘How New Ukraine’s Fate Affects Europe and the World,’ Trump was already a presidential candidate.”
Pinchuk is the guy described thusly by Newsweek, “Hillary Clinton’s Big Benefactor Has Trade Links with Iran” and “In November 2014, the now-retired Republican congressman, Steve Stockman, wrote to the US Department of the Treasury, questioning Interpipe’s dealings with Iran.”
So Donald Trump’s foundation took money from the very person that was a source of his claims that Hillary Clinton was corrupt. He took it while running for president.
So many of Trump’s accusations have turned out to be projections that it would behoove the press to look behind him whenever he starts making accusations.
In the age of distrust of the media, Fahrenthold’s relentless digging into Trump’s financial issues should remind everyone that there are reporters putting it all on the line to do their job. No doubt Fahrenthold’s reporting is part of the reason the Washington Post finds itself blacklisted right now by the Trump team.
This could explain why Donald Trump is declining to make good on his campaign promise to “Lock her up!”. If there’s one thing Donald Trump is good at, it’s feeding red meat to willing marks.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.