Trump Foundation Settlement Highlights Trump’s Many Frauds

The Trump Foundation's $2 million settlement is simply the latest in a well-known history of Trump family settlements, frauds, and near indictments.
Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump, accompanied by his family, at news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York Wednesday Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Updated Thursday, August 6

Before Donald Trump was a self-dealing president, he was a self-dealing candidate, and a self-dealing businessman before that. On Thursday, a New York State judge reminded us of that. CNN reported:

A New York state judge ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million to a collection of nonprofit organizations in connection with a settlement with the New York state attorney general’s office to resolve a civil lawsuit alleging the foundation unlawfully coordinated with the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.

In her decision filed Thursday, Justice Saliann Scarpulla found that “Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation,” including by “allowing his campaign to orchestrate” a televised fundraiser ostensibly for the foundation in Des Moines, Iowa, in January 2016, and allowing the campaign to direct the distribution of the money raised from that event “to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”

President Trump previously claimed he would not settle this case.

This ends the Trump Foundation saga. In 2016, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold published a series of reports that revealed the stunning self-dealing and impropriety of the Trump Foundation. That reporting not only won Fahrenthold a Pulitzer Prize, but it also triggered New York’s investigation into the Trump Foundation. That investigation led to the above settlement, and to the Trump Foundation being shut down in December 2018.

The New York Attorney General’s office alleged at the time “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. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.” It appears they’ve been proven right in court.

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Donald Trump’s History of Fraud

Trump has a well-known history of fraudulent behavior. Donald Trump paid a $25 million settlement for defrauding customers with Trump University – a payment made after winning the presidency. The New York Times reported that Donald Trump received, at least, the equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire and used shady methods, sometimes constituting fraud, to funnel the money to himself. There are also allegations of money laundering for Russian oligarchs through the sale of overvalued properties.

Wait, there’s more. ProPublica published a report last month that added yet another piece of evidence to the mountain of bank and tax fraud evidence known to the public. The report highlighted documents they received that revealed Donald Trump’s businesses downplayed profits to New York tax officials and exaggerated them to lenders.

Those documents appeared to confirm behavior similar to what President Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen (and campaign finance violation co-conspirator) testified to in February. A line of questioning from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) garnered the revelation. Cohen testified that Trump inflated his assets to insurance companies and may have committed tax evasion. Cohen also told the Committee that Donald Trump inflated the worth of his assets in an effort to obtain a loan from Deutsche Bank to buy the Buffalo Bills. Manhattan DA Cy Vance is running a criminal probe that includes those Trump fraud allegations, is in the process of securing Trump’s tax returns, and has reportedly subpoenaed Deutsche Bank.

But the fraudulent behavior isn’t unique to Trump Sr., it’s a family affair. Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were also nearly indicted for fraudulently misleading their customers when selling units of their Trump SoHo project. It’s also important to note that state crimes cannot be covered by a federal pardon.

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The Self-Interest Hasn’t Stopped In The Oval Office

As President, Donald Trump has not been subtle in the ways in which he profits from the presidency. Government watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), has been keeping track of this activity, which they say violates the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.

All of this feeds into allegations from Trump critics that he is not serving the interests of the American people, but instead, as he did throughout his business career, he is only looking out for himself. This claim ties into the impeachment inquiry, where House Democrats are garnering evidence that proves President Trump put his political interests above America’s national security interests by extorting Ukraine.

As many reporters have pointed out, there are not many Trump scandals, there is only one: corruption.

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News // Donald Trump / Fraud / Trump Foundation / Trump Organization