Despite pleas from the president’s attorneys, the Attorney General of New York has pledged to continue with a lawsuit against the president for misusing charitable funds donated to the Trump Foundation. According to her,Trump used the Foundation as a personal piggybank and a source of money to illegally fund his businesses and also his political campaign.
Lawyers for Donald Trump last week asked the presiding judge to dismiss the lawsuit brought against the Trump Foundation by New York’s Attorney General Barbara Underwood, because they say that it was motivated by political considerations.
In the motion filed with the court on Thursday, Trump attorney Alan S. Futerfas pleaded that the former New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, had “made it his stated mission to ‘lead the resistance’ and attack Mr. Trump whenever possible.” Futerfas also said that Schneiderman “used his public antipathy for Mr. Trump to solicit donations for his own re-election campaign and advance his career interests and aspirations.”
According to Futerfas, Trump “very publicly announced his intention to dissolve the foundation and donate all of its remaining funds to charity,” but the Attorney General “actively stonewalled dissolution.”
“At the same time, the New York Attorney General turned a blind eye to serious and significant allegations of misconduct involving the Clinton Foundation, including claims that it, and its subsidiaries, violated New York law by failing to disclose $225 million in donations from foreign governments,” Futerfas added in the court filing.
Schneiderman first began to investigate the Trump Foundation in 2016, after articles in the Washington Post disclosed that Foundation spending personally benefited the presidential candidate, in ways not allowed under state law. At the time, and as a result of misuse of funds by Trump, Schneiderman issued a legal order to the foundation saying it must stop fundraising in New York.
In May of this year Schneiderman was forced to resign from his office due to allegations that he physically abused several women that he dated.
It was at that time that his successor, Barbara Underwood, took over the Trump Foundation case. In June she filed the lawsuit which Trump’s lawyers now seek to dismiss. In filing the suit, Underwood wrote that 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 suit seeks $2.8 million in restitution and the foundation’s disbandment.
The filing by the president’s lawyers also said that Underwood was continuing the “inflammatory rhetoric, stating publicly that she considers her battles with the President ‘the most important work she has ever done’ and has vowed that such ‘work will continue.’”
Trump’s lawyers also are now claiming that impermissible donations by the Foundation were “due to clerical errors” and were all corrected when brought to the attention of foundation officers.
In a statement issued last week, Attorney General Underwood’s office said they will not back down from “holding Trump and his associates accountable for their flagrant violations of New York law.”
“As our lawsuit detailed, the Trump Foundation functioned as a personal piggy bank to serve Trump’s business and political interests,” the statement said.
Based on violations of New York law discovered so far, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has agreed to allow criminal charges to be pursued against the Trump Foundation. In addition, the case has been referred to the Internal Revenue Service for possible prosecution of federal tax law violations.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.