President Trump on Thursday lashed out at New York’s Democratic attorney general, accusing Letitia James of “deliberately mischaracterizing” a settlement in a lawsuit involving his charity for “political purposes.”
“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State. No wonder why we are all leaving!” Trump said in a statement issued on Twitter Thursday evening.
“Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses. The New York Attorney General is deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes,” the president continued.
STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP pic.twitter.com/EktztHfLk6
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 8, 2019
A Manhattan judge earlier Thursday ordered Trump to pay $2 million to nonprofit groups as part of a settlement in a civil lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general’s office last year that alleged he used his charity’s funds for personal and political means. The dispute centered on $2.8 million raised by the Trump Foundation at a 2016 fundraiser for military veterans.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ruled Thursday that Trump “breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation” by allowing “his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
Scarpulla said that she ordered Trump to pay $2 million in damages rather than $2.8 million — the amount the attorney general had argued for — because the funds ultimately reached their intended destinations, veterans charities.
The lawsuit, filed by then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in June 2018, named Trump, his three eldest children and the Trump Foundation and alleged violations of campaign finance law.
Trump on Thursday attacked James as well as Underwood and her processor, Eric Schneiderman, who resigned amid accusations of physical abuse. Trump accused them of targeting him for political purposes.
“It has been 4 years of politically motivated harassment – first by lightweight AG Schneiderman, prior to his resignation for beating up women – then AG Underwood, who was impossible to deal with, and now AG Letitia James, who does not acknowledge that we gave 100% of the funds to great charities, but refuses to investigate the Clinton Foundation with all of its problems,” Trump said.
Trump also said he would be “happy to donate” $2 million to eight charities, namely Army Emergency Relief; Children’s Aid Society; City Meals on Wheels; Give an Hour; Martha’s Table; United Negro College Fund; United Way of Capital Area; and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Thursday’s order came after the foundation agreed in December to dissolve under court supervision as part of agreement with the state attorney general’s office. In the order, Scarpulla wrote that the parties agreed to a “consensual resolution of the bulk of this proceeding” in October that left it up to her to determine the amount Trump would pay in damages.
James positioned the order as a major victory for her office.
“My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law — not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States,” James said in a statement.
Trump has sparred with New York Democratic leaders in recent days after news broke that he had left the state and declared residency in Florida.
Trump ripped New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio last Friday, claiming that the state “can never be great again” under their leadership and rattling off a number of issues he sees with the state.