The Slatest

President Pays Gigantic Fine for Stealing From Charity

Trump, speaking from behind a lectern against an American flag backdrop, stretches his arms out with his palms upturned.
Donald Trump at a January 2016 veterans event in Des Moines, Iowa. Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

What’s your favorite act of misusing and/or stealing funds from a charity in this list of violations to which the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump, just admitted in the course of paying $2 million in court-ordered damages to resolve a lawsuit filed against him by the New York attorney general’s office?

1. When he had the Trump 2020 campaign put the Trump Foundation’s name on promotional materials and ceremonial checks related to a fundraiser that he, as a candidate, held for military veterans in January 2016. (The Trump Foundation was ostensibly a charity, and charities can’t participate in political campaigns.)

2. When he used $100,000 of the Trump Foundation’s money—which was raised almost entirely from other people—to settle an ordinance dispute that his Mar-a-Lago club/vacation home was having with the city of Palm Beach, Florida. (He had violated the ordinance in question by flying an enormous American flag on an 80-foot flagpole, which, admittedly, is a funny way to get sued by the city of Palm Beach.)

3. When he used $157,820 of the Trump Foundation’s money to settle a legal dispute with a man who’d won a $1 million hole-in-one prize during an event held by another charity at a Trump golf course in New York. (The resolution agreement released by New York state says that a company from which the outside charity had purchased “ ‘hole in one’ insurance” was responsible for denying the man his prize. Per reporting by the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, who uncovered a great deal of the activity covered in New York’s suit, the question at issue was whether Trump’s golf course had made the relevant hole too short.)

4. When he used $25,000 of the charity’s money to make a donation to a political group that supported then–Florida attorney general Pam Bondi at the same time that Bondi was considering whether to sue “Trump University” for defrauding its “students.” (Bondi did not, but New York’s attorney general did, which led in part to the other multimillion-dollar fraud settlement that Trump paid since taking office.) (Bondi now works for the White House as a special adviser to Trump on matters related to impeachment.) (LOL.)

5. When he used the Trump Foundation to pay $5,000 to put an advertisement for the Trump International Hotel in D.C. into a program distributed at another charity’s fundraising event.

6. When he used $10,000 of the Trump Foundation’s money to buy a painting of himself (Donald Trump) that he hung inside his Doral resort in Miami.

7. When he used $32,000 of the Trump Foundation’s money to pay “stewardship” costs for a piece of property in Westchester County, New York, that he’d donated to a land preservation group (but only after attempting unsuccessfully to build a golf course and luxury housing on it).

Some people might say that No. 6 is the best because it creates an overlapping Venn diagram of corruption involving the Doral resort, to which Trump’s administration attempted to award a contract to host the G-7 international summit. But I like No. 5 because it’s so simple.

The president should go to jail! Why isn’t the president in jail? Why isn’t this a bigger story? (The answer is because it’s competing for news space with all the other crimes for which he should go to jail.)