Politics

NY AG: Trump Can't Shut Foundation During Investigation

| by Nik Bonopartis

President-elect Donald Trump can't close his charitable foundation because it's under investigation.

That's according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a political ally and former adviser to former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, who was heavily criticized for injecting himself into the presidential race.

On Dec. 23, Trump announced plans to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation as part of a larger effort to clear his slate and reduce possible conflicts of interest before the businessman is inaugurated as the 45th president on Jan. 20.

But Schneiderman, who launched a probe into Trump's foundation during the presidential campaign, says Trump can't shutter his charity before Schneiderman determines whether Trump personally benefited from the charity's activities, The Associated Press reported.

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“The Trump foundation is still under investigation by this office and cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete,” Amy Spitalnick, a Schneiderman spokeswoman, said on Dec. 27.

Trump has admitted he ran afoul of IRS rules when he used the charity to cut a $25,000 check to a political action committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to The New York Times. More than a month later, Bondi's office announced it would not launch its own investigation into complaints against Trump University, which was accused of using aggressive sales tactics and passing itself off as an accredited school.

Trump's charity also purchased a painting of Trump that was later displayed on one of Trump's properties, AP reported.

For his part, the president-elect says he stands by the way his foundation was run.

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“The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses,” Trump tweeted on Dec. 26. “100% of the money goes to wonderful charities.”

Although Schneiderman says his office hasn't completed its investigation, he publicly condemned the real estate mogul's charity and business, calling Trump University "a fraud from beginning to end" during an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" in June while remaining critical of the then-Republican presidential nominee throughout the campaign.

Schneiderman also claimed Trump "personally pocketed $5 million from" his charity.

When pressed for proof by ABC's George Stephanopolous -- also a Clinton ally -- Schneiderman said his office was "going to get more information" but said he's "confident that [Trump] didn't do this for free," referring to his charitable activities.

Despite insisting his investigation was not politically motivated, Schneiderman touted his actions against Trump in emails sent out to supporters. Records show Schneiderman has donated to the Clinton campaign, including $2,700 in donations in 2015, the maximum amount an individual can give under federal law.

Schneiderman was also appointed to Clinton's campaign "leadership council" in New York, and a September story from Scripps News noted that his office did not provide the same level of scrutiny to the Clinton Foundation. State laws require charities to list foreign donations in their filings, but Schneiderman gave the Clinton Foundation a pass despite the foundation's failure to provide details about foreign donations for more than a decade, the article said.

Sources: AP via CBS News, The New York Times, Scripps News via WSYM, New York Post / Photo credit: U.S. Department of Justice/Wikimedia Commons

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