Donald Trump fined $2m for misusing charity cash
US president spent funds collected for veterans on champagne and portrait of himself
A US judge has ordered Donald Trump to pay a $2m (£1.6m) fine for misusing funds from his charity to finance his 2016 political campaign.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation closed last December after prosecutors accused the charity of being “little more than a chequebook to serve Mr Trump’s business and political interests”, The Guardian reports.
The then New York State attorney-general, Barbara Underwood, said the investigation had uncovered “a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation – including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and wilful self-dealing, and much more”.
A court heard that Trump allowed funds collected for US veterans to be spent on his presidential campaign in the state of Iowa.
The US leader also admitted to personally misusing funds from the charity, including spending $10,000 on portrait of himself and a further $11,525 on champagne and sports memorabilia.
That admission marked a U-turn from his stance after the lawsuit was filed in June 2018, when Trump and his legal team argued that the case was politically motivated, reports Sky News. The president tweeted that “sleazy New York Democrats” for “doing everything they can to sue me”.
Ruling against Trump this week, New York judge Saliann Scarpulla ordered the US president to pay the fine, along with $1.78m (£1.4m) in assets currently held by the Trump Foundation, to eight unconnected charities.
And his children, Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump - who were all directors of the charity - are required to undergo mandatory training “on the duties of officers and directors of charities”, say state prosecutors.
Following the ruling, the president tweeted that all the investigators had uncovered was “incredibly effective philanthropy”.
But New York Attorney-General Letitia James said: “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.
“No one is above the law, not a businessman, not a candidate for office and not even the president of the United States.”