In the suit, filed Thursday morning, attorney general Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.
Underwood also asks that Trump be banned from leading any other New York nonprofit for 10 years — seeking to apply a penalty usually reserved for the operators of small-time charity frauds to the president of the United States.
In the suit, Underwood noted that Trump had already paid more than $330,000 in reimbursements and penalty taxes since 2016. New York state began probing the Trump Foundation in response to an investigation by The Washington Post.
But she asked the judge to go further, and require Trump to pay millions more. She said a 20-month state investigation found that Trump had repeatedly violated laws that set the ground rules for tax-exempt foundations — most importantly, that their money is meant to serve the public good, and not to provide private benefits to their founders.
“This resulted in multiple violations of state and federal law,” Underwood wrote in the legal complaint.
The White House and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Trump has been president of the foundation since he founded it in 1987. In late 2016, he had promised to shut down the Trump Foundation — but could not while the attorney general’s investigation continued.
Underwood was promoted to the position of attorney general only weeks ago, succeeding Eric Schneiderman (D) after he resigned following allegations that he had physically abused several romantic partners. Underwood was a career staffer, not an elected official. She has promised not to seek election for a full term as attorney general in the fall.
Underwood declined to comment on the case beyond issuing a written statement. “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,” Underwood said in the statement.
Underwood said she had sent letters to both the IRS and the Federal Election Commission, identifying what she called “possible violations” of tax law and federal campaign law by Trump’s foundation.
Underwood has jurisdiction over the Trump Foundation because the charity is based at Trump Tower in Manhattan and registered in New York State.
Trump’s children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump were also named in the lawsuit because they have been official board members of the Donald J. Trump Foundation for years. Under the law, Underwood said, board members are supposed to scrutinize a charity’s spending for signs that its leader — in this case, their father — was misusing the funds.
But in reality, Underwood wrote, the three Trump children exercised no such oversight. The board had not actually met since 1999.
The Trump Foundation is most likely guilty of all the things Trump accused the Clinton Foundation of doing, being a personal slush fund and money laundering vehicle for the Trump family to take kickbacks from for decades. Believe me when I say Mueller and his team of forensic accountants are follwing this money trail, and as I've said all along, even if Trump fires Mueller and pardons himself on all federal charges, the state charges brought by NY are going to be much harder to make disappear.
That doesn't mean Trump can't find a federal judge to tie up this lawsuit like rope day at a contortionist's convention, but it's not like Trump can fire Underwood or pardon himself from the lawsuit. Most importantly, his slimy kids are in real trouble from this. Dad might be able to smokescreen this for a while but Ivanka and her rotten brothers will not have that luxury.
And if these "multiple violations of state and federal law" turn into possible criminal indictments complete with possible prison time, things are going to get real fun around family gatherings.
Oh, and it directly ties into the Trump campaign's constant illegality too.
In violation of state and federal law, senior Trump campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts, and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits. pic.twitter.com/7MnLbwDqlY— New York Attorney General (@NewYorkStateAG) June 14, 2018
It also means the DoJ will have to certainly open yet another federal investigation into the person in the Oval Office, an investigation that AG Jeff Sessions, having been a member of the Trump campaign at the time, cannot be allowed to oversee.
Congress too should look into this as well. Republicans certainly would if the legal complaint that the NY AG is producing here were directed towards the Clinton Foundation.
Stay tuned. The family that crimes together, does time together.