Trump to dis­solve foundation amid probe

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

WEST PALM BEACH, Florida: Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump said Satur­day he will dis­solve his char­i­ta­ble foundation amid ef­forts to elim­i­nate any con­flicts of in­ter­est be­fore he takes of­fice next month. The rev­e­la­tion comes as the New York at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice in­ves­ti­gates the foundation fol­low­ing me­dia re­ports that foundation spend­ing went to ben­e­fit Trump’s cam­paign.

Trump said in a state­ment that he has di­rected his coun­sel to take the nec­es­sary steps to im­ple­ment the dis­so­lu­tion of the Don­ald J Trump Foundation, say­ing that it op­er­ated “at es­sen­tially no cost for decades, with 100 per­cent of the money go­ing to char­ity”. “The foundation has done enor­mous good works over the years in con­tribut­ing mil­lions of dol­lars to count­less wor­thy groups, in­clud­ing sup­port­ing veter­ans, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and chil­dren,” he said in a state­ment.

“I will be de­vot­ing so much time and en­ergy to the pres­i­dency and solv­ing the many prob­lems fac­ing our coun­try and the world. I don’t want to al­low good work to be as­so­ci­ated with a pos­si­ble con­flict of in­ter­est,” he said. Trump said he will pur­sue phil­an­thropic ef­forts in other ways, but didn’t elab­o­rated on how he’d do so.

The Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee crit­i­cized Trump for what it called “a wilted fig leaf to cover up his re­main­ing con­flicts of in­ter­est and his piti­ful record of char­i­ta­ble giv­ing.” The state­ment from party spokesman Eric Walker also took a jab at the pres­i­dent-elect over his con­tro­ver­sial busi­ness hold­ings: “Shut­ter­ing a char­ity is no sub­sti­tute for di­vest­ing from his for-profit busi­ness and putting the as­sets in a blind trust - the only way to guar­an­tee sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and the Trump busi­ness.” A 2015 tax re­turn posted on the non­profit mon­i­tor­ing web­site GuideS­tar shows the Don­ald J. Trump Foundation ac­knowl­edged that it used money or as­sets in vi­o­la­tion of IRS reg­u­la­tions - not only dur­ing 2015, but in prior years. Those reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit self­deal­ing by the char­ity. That’s broadly de­fined as us­ing its money or as­sets to ben­e­fit Trump, his fam­ily, his com­pa­nies or sub­stan­tial con­trib­u­tors to the foundation.

The tax fil­ing doesn’t pro­vide de­tails on the vi­o­la­tions. Whether Trump ben­e­fited from the foundation’s spend­ing has been the sub­ject of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by New York At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man. In Septem­ber, Sch­nei­der­man dis­closed that his of­fice has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing Trump’s char­ity to de­ter­mine whether it has abided by state laws gov­ern­ing non­prof­its. Doc­u­ments ob­tained by AP in Septem­ber showed Sch­nei­der­man’s scru­tiny of The Don­ald J Trump Foundation dated back to at least June, when his of­fice for­mally ques­tioned the do­na­tion made by the char­ity to a group sup­port­ing Florida At­tor­ney Gen­eral Pam Bondi.

Bondi per­son­ally so­licited the money dur­ing a 2013 phone call that came af­ter her of­fice re­ceived com­plaints from for­mer stu­dents claim­ing they were scammed by Trump Univer­sity, Trump’s get-rich-quick real es­tate sem­i­nars. The Trump Foundation check ar­rived just days af­ter Bondi’s of­fice told a news­pa­per it was re­view­ing a law­suit against Trump Univer­sity filed by Sch­nei­der­man. Bondi’s of­fice never sued Trump, though she de­nies his do­na­tion played any role in that de­ci­sion.

Trump later paid a $2,500 fine over the check from his foundation be­cause it vi­o­lated fed­eral law bar­ring char­i­ties from mak­ing po­lit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions. Amy Spi­tal­nick, press sec­re­tary for Sch­nei­der­man’s of­fice, said Satur­day that the foundation “can­not legally dis­solve” un­til the in­ves­ti­ga­tion is com­plete. —AP

WEST ALLIS, Wis­con­sin: In this Dec 13, 2016 photo, US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump speaks dur­ing a rally at the Wis­con­sin State Fair Ex­po­si­tion Cen­ter. — AP

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