Although it’s just one of six entities run by Donald Trump that’s currently under investigation, the Trump Foundation has been one of the highest-profile cases of corruption and malfeasance that this President has faced, in no small part because it’s being run by the New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood — one of the most competent and motivated prosecutors the government has ever had.
Underwood has had an ongoing case against the Foundation, Trump himself, and his children for months now, and today she reached a milestone break in the case: Trump has finally agreed — been forced to agree, in fact — to dissolve the Foundation and distribute the remaining money in it to charity. In fact, charity was ostensibly the purpose of the Foundation, but the fact that not much of the money that ran through the organization went to charity sources is what led to the investigation in the first place.
In a statement, Underwood said that her investigators had found “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.”
Famously, Trump used Foundation funds to buy a six-foot-tall painting of himself at an auction because no one else would bid on it. In the case that brought the painting as evidence, Trump’s lawyer in the matter, Alan Futerfas, told a judge that his client “had to” buy the painting because no one wanted it. And although many a laugh was stifled in that courtroom, the charges from the AG’s office were no laughing matter: Underwood told the judge that Trump and all three of his eldest children were engaged in “persistent violation” of federal and state laws in the operation of the Foundation.
Among the most serious of the allegations in the case is something that may sound familiar to those following the Michael Cohen “hush money” saga and the accusations of illegal campaign coordination with the NRA and their Kremlin-connected ad buys.
The Foundation is accused of illegal coordination with the Trump presidential campaign over a fundraiser it held in Iowa during a time when Trump was feuding with the network that would become his primary source of media support later on, Fox News.
The cable news giant was hosting a debate, and Trump didn’t want to participate, so his Foundation held a fundraiser instead, making a huge show of distributing the funds to “charity” afterward. But rather than the Board of the Foundation deciding how to allocate the money and to which charities, Trump handed the duty off to Corey Lewandowsky, who was his campaign manager at the time — making it illegal campaign activity, regardless of intent.
The final word today from Barbara Underwood should not allow Trump or his kids to breathe easy, either — it’s not over just because they’re dissolving the Foundation:
#BREAKING: We’ve secured a stipulation requiring the Trump Foundation to dissolve under judicial supervision, with our review of recipient charities.
The Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s interests. Our lawsuit remains ongoing. pic.twitter.com/FsRubdNZs9
— NY AG Underwood (@NewYorkStateAG) December 18, 2018
Featured image via screen capture