Judge Rules Trump Must Pay $2 Million for Misusing Charity Foundation

November 7, 2019 Updated: November 8, 2019

A judge in New York ordered President Donald Trump on Nov. 7 to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged Trump misused his charitable foundation during the 2016 campaign.

Judge Saliann Scarpulla said that New York Attorney General Letitia James and the Trump Foundation already entered into several stipulations after James brought the case, including a final stipulation in which Trump agreed to reimburse $11,525 to the Foundation for the Foundation’s payment of auction items at a charitable benefit, and to pay any additional amount that may be owed in connection with this proceeding, which would be set by Scarpulla.

That agreement also saw “the resolution of damages for alleged waste resulting from improper uses of Foundation assets, except for those arising out of the allegedly improper use of the Foundation and distribution of the $2,823,000 received by the Foundation (‘Funds’) from Mr. Trump’s televised fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa on January 28, 2016,” the judge said in the order (pdf).

“The sole remaining issue—which the parties agreed would be determined by me—is the amount of any additional payment owed by Mr. Trump arising out of the allegedly improper use of the Foundation and distribution of the Funds received by the Foundation from Mr. Trump’s Fundraiser. Upon my determination of any additional amount to be paid by Mr. Trump, the parties agreed to withdraw and discontinue with prejudice the remaining causes of action not previously dismissed.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference in New York City on June 11, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

James wanted the judge to award damages for the entire $2.8 million, while Trump argued that the foundation disbursed all of the funds to charitable organizations.

Scarpuilla found that the money raised at the fundraiser was initially used for Trump’s political campaign and disbursed by Trump’s campaign staff, rather than by the foundation.

“However, taking into consideration that the Funds did ultimately reach their intended destinations, i.e., charitable organizations supporting veterans, I award damages on the breach of fiduciary duty/waste claim against Mr. Trump in the amount of $2,000,000, without interest, rather than the entire $2,823,000 sought by the Attorney General. Further, because the parties have agreed to dissolve the Foundation, I direct Mr. Trump to pay the $2,000,000, which would have gone to the Foundation if it were still in existence, on a pro rata basis to the Approved Recipients,” the judge wrote.

James also pushed for an order making Trump pay a statutory penalty of twice the amount of general damages, but the judge declined to do so.

James celebrated the ruling, issuing a statement saying: “My office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law—not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the President of the United States.”

Trump responded to the ruling by criticizing New York and saying it showed why he and others were leaving the city and the suit was part of a pattern  of “politically motivated harassment.”

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State,” he wrote.

“Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses.”

Follow Zachary on Twitter: @zackstieber
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