A New York judge has ordered Donald Trump to pay a $2m settlement in a lawsuit accusing the president of misusing his charitable foundation for political purposes, including his 2016 presidential campaign.
Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York County Supreme Court said Mr Trump breached his duty to the Donald J Trump Foundation, which was the focus of intense scrutiny during Mr Trump’s presidential run over how much charitable giving he and his namesake foundation had actually done.
The New York attorney-general’s office had opened an investigation into the foundation months before the 2016 election, and ordered the foundation to stop fundraising. After the election, Mr Trump said he would dissolve the charity, a move that was blocked by the New York attorney-general until the probe was finished.
Barbara Underwood, then New York attorney-general, filed a civil lawsuit in June 2018 alleging that Mr Trump and his three eldest children — Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric — violated federal and state finance laws by using the president’s foundation to further personal, business and political interests.
Ms Underwood had called the Trump Foundation “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests.”
The Trump Foundation agreed to be dissolved in December under judicial supervision.
Thursday’s settlement stipulates that Mr Trump would be subject to ongoing supervision by the attorney-general’s office should he establish a new charity. The settlement included mandatory training requirements for this three children and also set out the names of charities that would receive the remaining assets of the Trump Foundation following its dissolution.
“The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain,” Letitia James, New York’s current attorney-general, said in the statement.
“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 resident of the United States,” she added.
A spokesperson for the Trump Organisation said that the foundation was “pleased” that the remaining funds would be donated to other charitable groups.
Shortly after his election in November 2016, Mr Trump reached a settlement with New York and thousands of students accusing him of running a fraudulent real estate course.