President Donald Trump’s personal charitable foundation agreed to shut down Tuesday amid an ongoing civil suit alleging Trump illegally used assets from the foundation to settle disputes in his businesses and boost his political campaign.
The suit, filed by New York’s outgoing Attorney General Barbara Underwood, accused Trump of using the charity's money to give out sizable grants to veterans organizations leading up to the Iowa Caucuses in 2016. The New York-based foundation was originally created to donate proceeds from Trump’s popular book ”The Art of the Deal” to charitable causes, and it did give to an array of groups, notably in the healthcare and law enforcement fields, but only $2.8 million of some $10 million given from 2001 to 2014 came from Trump himself, according to Forbes.
“The Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s interests,” Underwood wrote in a tweet. “Our lawsuit remains ongoing.”
The attorney general and Trump Foundation lawyers filed a mutual agreement in court outlining the shutdown of the charity and donating its remaining assets to other nonprofit groups.
“This is an important victory for the rule of law, making clear that there is one set of rules for everyone,” Underwood said in a statement. “We’ll continue to move our suit forward to ensure that the Trump Foundation and its directors are held to account for their clear and repeated violations of state and federal law.”
The lawsuit was initially filed last summer. Though the charity lawyers agreed to a shutdown, Underwood will continue to seek restitution of $2.8 million and a 10-year ban on Trump and his three eldest children running any charities.
The charity’s lawyers argued in court that the case was politically motivated and should be thrown out. The judge rejected these arguments and has yet to approve Tuesday’s agreement.
The matter may move into the hands of Underwood’s newly elected replacement as New York AG, Letitia James. James stated in a recent interview with NBC News that she’s ready to go after Trump for any and all violations of the law when she starts her new job in January. “We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well…. We want to investigate anyone in his orbit who has, in fact, violated the law.”
The foundation shutdown comes as Trump faces a litany of investigations into his business and political activities.
Cover: President Donald Trump walks with an umbrella from Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Dec. 15, 2018, after visiting during Wreaths Across America Day. Wreaths Across America was started in 1992 at Arlington National Cemetery by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester and has expanded to hundreds of veterans' cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)