Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on July 6, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters

Controversy surrounds Trump’s donations (or lack thereof)

A week ago, Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son, called the Washington Post to complain about the paper’s coverage of his father’s charitable contributions. By all accounts, Eric Trump didn’t say the Post had made any mistake – David Fahrenthold’s research and reporting has been impeccable – but instead blasted the newspaper for making his father look bad.
 
“I’m just saying, Jesus Christ, why is this guy trying to f—ing kill us?” Trump allegedly told Fahrenthold.
 
It was a revealing sentiment. As we discussed last week, Trump may have boasted about millions of dollars in charitable contributions, but the Post’s investigation turned up less than $10,000 in donations over the last seven years. The New York Republican set up a foundation to help dispense his charitable donations, and in years past, Trump contributed $2.8 million. That total, however, is less than a third of what he’d pledged, and records suggest he hasn’t made a donation to the foundation since 2008.
 
No wonder Eric Trump is unhappy. Under normal political rules, this is the sort of thing that could bury a presidential candidate. It’s not just a question about greed or stinginess, it’s also one about honesty.
 
Trump’s son is apparently trying to help, but a follow-up report from the Post’s Fahrenthold, published overnight, actually makes matters worse.
Last week, Eric Trump said that his own charitable foundation had received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in personal donations from his father.
 
But on Monday, Eric Trump said he could not name a single instance when Donald Trump had given such a gift…. Eric Trump said he was too busy to look for evidence that would back up his earlier statements: “I have a lot going on – I just don’t have the time. Good luck with the story,” he wrote.
Yeah, that’s not good.
 
The Washington Post isn’t exactly looking for some long-hidden holy grail. All the reporter is trying to track down is proof to substantiate Trump’s own boasts about his generosity. Either Trump made these charitable donations or he didn’t. If they happened, someone should have some proof.
 
The Post yesterday learned of a donation Donald Trump made to a cancer center in Buffalo, but as it turns out, it was a different Donald Trump.
 
Trump’s tax returns could shed additional light on this, but at least for now, the presumptive GOP nominee is prepared to be the first major-party candidate since Watergate to refuse to release these tax records and documents.
 
Looking ahead, the Post’s Fahrenthold summarized the key questions that deserve answers: before his recent gift to a veterans’ charity, when was the last time Trump gave a dollar of his own money to charity; and if he didn’t make any contributions, what became of the $8.5 million-plus he’d promised to give away?
 
 
 

Donald Trump

Controversy surrounds Trump's donations (or lack thereof)