President Donald Trump misused his Trump Foundation charity to benefit his 2016 presidential campaign and now must pay back $2 million to settle a civil suit by New York’s former attorney general, a New York judge ruled on Thursday.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ruled that more than $2.8 million raised by the Trump Foundation had been “used for Mr. Trump’s political campaign and disbursed by Mr. Trump’s campaign staff, rather than by the Foundation.”
“A review of the record, including the factual admissions in the Final Stipulation, establishes that Mr. Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the Foundation and that waste occurred to the Foundation,” Scarpulla wrote in her ruling.
According to ABC News, in 2016, the Trump Foundation held a televised fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa. Nearly $3 million in donations were received, and subsequently “dispersed on the eve of the Iowa caucuses as directed by then-campaign chief Corey Lewandowski.”
The suit sought $2.8 million in restitution, the foundation’s disbandment, and a 10-year ban on Trump running any charities, CNBC.com reports. Scarpulla reduced the amount to $2 million—and declined to bring any punitive damages against Trump—saying that the funds were ultimately disbursed to charitable organizations.
The Trump Foundation shut down in December 2018 under court supervision and agreed to disperse the remaining assets to court-approved charities.
“I direct Mr. Trump to pay the $2,000,000, which would have gone to the Foundation if it were still in existence, on a pro-rata basis to the Approved Recipients,” the judge continued.
The $2 million, that Trump must pay himself, will go to eight nonprofit organizations, including the Children’s Aid Society, United Negro College Fund and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
According to a spokesperson for the Trump Foundation, the organization “is pleased to donate an additional $2 million” to the groups.
History Of The Lawsuit
Former New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed the lawsuit in June of 2018 against Trump and three of his children— Ivanka, Eric and Donald Jr.—alleging that “Trump used the nonprofit Trump Foundation’s money to settle business disputes and boost his political fortunes,” the Washington Post reports.
Trump attempted to stop the lawsuit from proceeding, with his legal team arguing that a sitting president could not be sued in state court for something outside of official duties, a premise Scarpulla rejected.
“As we detailed in our petition earlier this year, the Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests. There are rules that govern private foundations — and we intend to enforce them, no matter who runs the foundation,” Underwood said in a statement at the time. “We welcome Justice Scarpulla’s decision, which allows our suit to move forward.”
Trump responded by raging on Twitter that he would never settle the case.