The Trump Foundation agreed Tuesday to dissolve itself under an agreement reached with the New York attorney general’s office, the result of a major civil lawsuit alleging that the charity violated state law.
State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood filed suit in June against the Trump charity, Donald Trump, and its directors—Donald J. Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. The suit alleged a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, over more than a decade, that included “improper and extensive unlawful political activity,” “willful self-dealing transactions” to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and “failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations, or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.” Trump appears to have used the charity to settle lawsuits, make political donations, burnish his campaign, and purchase art for his golf clubs, among other things. The suit alleged that oversight at the foundation was so lacking, its board of directors hadn’t met since 1999. The official treasurer didn’t know he was also on the board.
The lawsuit—which sought $2.8 million in restitution and a bar on the Trump family from serving on the boards of other New York charities—followed extensive reporting in the Washington Post and ongoing legal scrutiny of Trump’s charitable donations. In a setback for the Trump family, a state Supreme Court judge in November allowed the case to proceed, citing the “very serious allegations” of wrongdoing.
In a statement today, Underwood said, “Our petition detailed 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. This amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”
The attorney general filed the stipulation to dissolve the foundation Tuesday morning, and now a judge must sign off on it. The foundation will then have 30 days to give away the balance of its funds, $1.75 million, to other not-for-profit charities that must be approved in advance. The suit will continue despite the dissolution.
The president has long claimed that the charity did nothing wrong and that the suit was partisan, filed by “sleazy New York Democrats.” He has talked of shutting down the foundation since 2016, but his lawyers claim the attorney general’s investigation precluded them from doing so. After the announcement Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer Alan Futerfas told NBC News that the foundation had initially sought the dissolution and was pleased. The Trumps “are happy we could get this resolved,” Futerfas said. So much winning.