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Trump says Trump Foundation lawsuit is “ridiculous”

The New York state attorney general filed a lawsuit against Trump and his three eldest children alleging a “pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade.”

Donald Trump Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony For The Trump International Hotel In Washington, D.C.
Donald Trump and his family cutting the ribbon outside the Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC, in October 2016. Trump and his three eldest children — Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric — have been named in a lawsuit over the activities of the Trump Foundation.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

President Donald Trump hit back at the New York state attorney general’s lawsuit against his family’s charity on Thursday in a pair of tweets calling the case “ridiculous” and saying he won’t settle.

“The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!” Trump tweeted. “Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.”

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Thursday filed a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation alleging “extensive and persistent violations of state and federal law.” The suit names President Trump and his three eldest children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump — and alleges a “pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade.”

Underwood has asked for $2.8 million in restitution, plus penalties. She’s also calling for the Trump Foundation to be dissolved and has contacted the IRS and the Federal Election Commission about potential violations of federal law. And her lawsuit seeks to bar Trump and his children from serving on nonprofit organizations.

Underwood replaced Schneiderman as New York’s attorney general in May after Schneiderman, also a fierce Trump critic, stepped down amid allegations from four women that he had physically abused them.

New York has been looking at the Trump Foundation for a while

The lawsuit is the culmination of an almost two-year investigation into the Trump Foundation. It asserts that Trump used the charity to settle legal claims against his businesses — the Washington Post’s David Farenthold points out that Trump has at least twice used the foundation’s money to settle legal claims. The foundation also paid $10,000 to buy a portrait of him that was later found hanging in a sports bar at one of his golf resorts and another $5,000 to put an ad for Trump hotels in the program for a charity gala.

Trump founded the Trump Foundation in 1987 with royalties from his book The Art of the Deal, but most of the money in it, especially in recent years, wasn’t his. He didn’t make any donations to his namesake charity from 2008 to 2015. Linda McMahon, now head of the Small Business Administration, and her husband, Vince McMahon, gave $5 million in 2007 and 2009.

Trump’s children, unlike their father, have not yet reacted on Twitter. As news of the lawsuit broke, they had all tweeted a tribute to President Trump for his birthday. He just turned 72.

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