US President Donald Trump has agreed to shut down his troubled charity under judicial scrutiny amid a lawsuit and allegations that he used it to serve his personal and political interests, New York’s attorney general, Barbara Underwood said on Tuesday.
Underwood’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation, the president and his three children began after months-long investigation into its role in the 2016 presidential campaign by her predecessor General Eric Schneiderman.
Underwood detailed a pattern of illegality in her lawsuit. According to her, the charity functioned as a chequebook to serve Trump’s interests.
She claimed that some $3 million funds of the charity was spent on the presidential campaign. It was alleged that Trump misused $10,000 belonging to the charity to buy a painting of himself to adorn the wall of one of his golf clubs.
Under the agreement, any funds still remaining with the foundation have to be distributed to charitable causes after submitting their details to the court within a month and approval from the attorney general.
In her lawsuit, Underwood said the charity was misused as a piggy bank to boost Trump’s presidential campaign. Rules were violated as the non-profit organisation was not supposed to engage in political activity.
Underwood said on Tuesday that the case against the foundation would continue. This means the president and his three children will face millions of dollars in penalties and sanctions.
The attorney general described the action to shut down the charity as an important victory for the rule of law, sending a clear message that there is one set of rules for everyone.
Trump is already facing a special counsel investigation into alleged ties between the presidential campaign and Russia headed by Robert Mueller.
In the meantime, the foundation’s lawyer Alan Futerfas said the attorney general’s statement is misleading and she is trying to politicise the matter.
Futerfas told BBC that the foundation was willing to dissolve the charity and distribute the remaining assets to worthwhile charitable causes after Trump’s presidential victory.
But the New York attorney general sought to prevent the dissolution for almost two years, thereby depriving the needy of nearly $1.7 million.