New York judge orders Trump to pay $2 million for misusing foundation funds

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FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2019, file photo, President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the Monroe Civic Center in Monroe, La. A New York judge on Thursday, Nov. 7 ordered Trump to pay about $2 million to an array of charities to resolve a lawsuit alleging he misused his own charitable foundation to further his political and business interests. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Washington — A New York state court has ordered President Trump to personally pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit over the misuse of funds from the now-defunct Trump Foundation to further his political ambitions, the New York Attorney General’s Office announced Thursday. 

The award is a part of the settlement in New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit against Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump. The lawsuit, filed in June 2018, claimed the foundation’s directors skirted New York’s charity laws, allowing the president to use foundation funds for his personal, business and political interests, including coordinating with his 2016 bid for the White House. The Trump Foundation announced it was shutting down last year, amid allegations that the money was used for Mr. Trump’s personal benefit. 

“The lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation was filed in June 2018 — charging the Foundation’s directors with ignoring their oversight duties under New York’s charity laws and demonstrating how Mr. Trump repeatedly used Foundation money for his own personal, business, and political interests, including the unlawful coordination with his 2016 president,” James said in a statement. 

Among other claims, the attorney general’s office said Mr. Trump and his campaign used $500,000 in foundation funds for a campaign rally. New York Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla said Mr. Trump “breached his fiduciary duty to the foundation and that waste occurred to the foundation.”

The foundation’s current assets, $1.78 million, and the $2 million in damages will be distributed to various nonprofit groups, including the Children’s Aid Society, the United Negro College Fund and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. 

A spokesperson for the Trump Foundation said they’re “pleased” to donate funds to such worthy causes.

“Since its inception in 1987, the Trump Foundation has distributed over $19 million to hundreds of worthwhile charities with little to no expenses. More than $9 million came directly from President Trump. Following the 2016 presidential election, the Trump Foundation publicly announced its intention to voluntarily dissolve and distribute all of its remaining funds to charity. Unfortunately, that donation was delayed due to the attorney general’s politically motivated lawsuit,” the spokesperson said. 

“We are pleased that the court, in rejecting the attorney general’s frivolous request for statutory penalties, interest and other damages, recognized that every penny ever raised by the Trump Foundation has gone to help those most in need.  Now that this matter is concluded, the Trump Foundation is proud to make this additional contribution.”  

The court order comes after another big loss for Mr. Trump, after a federal appeals court in New York ruled Monday that the president’s tax returns can be turned over to state criminal investigators. The president’s lawyers want the case to go to the Supreme Court

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