Monday, December 11

Donald Trump to dissolve his charitable foundation



Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he will shut down his charitable foundation, a response to mounting complaints over conflicts related to the president-elect’s charitable and business interests.

In a statement released by his campaign, Trump said the Donald J Trump Foundation would be “dissolved” to avoid “even the appearance of any conflict with my role as President”.

Trump said he would continue to pursue his strong interest in philanthropy in other ways.

The closure of the Trump Foundation, which was first reported by the New York Times, requires the approval of the New York attorney general’s office, which is currently investigating the nonprofit and issued a cease and desist order to it in October.

The Donald J Trump Foundation was repeatedly the subject of controversy throughout the presidential campaign after a series of investigations by the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold. Trump reportedly used $258,000 of the foundation’s money to pay for personal legal settlements. He also spent charitable funds on multiple portraits of himself and on a football helmet autographed by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

The foundation also made a donation to a political group supporting Florida attorney general Pam Bondi, a longtime Trump backer in violation of tax law. The president-elect has since paid $2,500 to the Internal Revenue Service over the donation.

The closure of the Trump Foundation requires the approval of the New York attorney general’s office, which is currently investigating the nonprofit and issued a cease and desist order to it in October.

Trump had not donated to his own foundation since 2008; the nonprofit relied on donations from other Trump associates, including professional wrestling magnates Vince and Linda McMahon, who gave $5m to the Trump Foundation. Linda McMahon has since been announced as Trump’s nominee to lead the Small Business Administration.

The decision also comes as Trump’s children have been under scrutiny for charitable efforts that raised questions over whether people were paying for access to the incoming president and his family.

A celebrity auction for a coffee date with Ivanka Trump, sponsored by Eric Trump’s charity, was called off earlier in December because donors were apparently given an attempt to curry favor with the incoming president and buy access to one of his closest advisers.

Both Eric and his brother, Don Jr, were also scheduled to appear at a reception on behalf of conservation charities over the weekend of the inauguration. The reception, which has since been canceled, reportedly promised the opportunity to meet the president-elect in exchange for $1m in donations.

These issues have come as Trump’s entire real estate business has come under scrutiny for potential conflicts of interest.

In particular, Trump’s international properties have the potential to violate the emoluments clause of the constitution, which prohibits anyone holding an office of profit or trust from accepting any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state.

But these conflicts also apply domestically, as the Kuwaiti government has already announced that it is shifting its annual party in February to Trump’s new hotel in Washington.

The issues are further amplified because the Trump Organization is a privately held corporation and the president-elect has flouted longstanding tradition in not releasing his tax returns.

The result is that there is no clear way to know what assets and liabilities Trump has. It is known, though, that Trump owes $364m to Deutsche Bank.

A news conference that the president-elect promised to hold on the topic on 15 December has since been postponed until sometime in January 2017.