Republican vice presidential candidate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks at the American Legislative Exchange Council annual meeting in Indianapolis, Ind., July 29, 2016.
Photo by Michael Conroy/AP

Team Trump struggles to defend latest Foundation revelations

The latest revelations surrounding Donald Trump’s charitable foundation are highly problematic. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reported yesterday the Republican “spent more than a quarter-million dollars from his charitable foundation to settle lawsuits that involved the billionaire’s for-profit businesses.” The result: Trump may have violated the law.

In an unusual follow-up, Trump felt compelled to boast last night, in a separate context, “There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money.”

The GOP campaign seems to realize it will need to defend Trump against the latest allegations, but so far the Republican team hasn’t been able to think of much. TPM reported this morning:
Pressed to identify a specific “factual error” in a new Washington Post report on the Trump Foundation that the Trump campaign has claimed was “peppered with inaccuracies,” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) came up short.

MSNBC’s Brian Williams on Tuesday asked Donald Trump’s running mate about the Post’s story, which alleged that the real estate mogul used $258,000 from his charity to settle personal legal issues.
Pence said there were “a number of factual errors in that story” – but he couldn’t identify any.

Jason Miller, Trump’s senior communications adviser – not to be confused with “John Miller,” the made-up alter ego Trump created for himself so he could pretend to be his own publicist – added in a statement that the Washington Post’s reporting is “peppered with inaccuracies and omissions from a biased reporter.”

But again, neither Trump nor anyone on his team has identified a single inaccuracy in any of the reporting.

And that’s a problem, since the available information suggests Trump crossed legal lines. The New York Times picked up on the story overnight:
Legal experts said the foundation’s donations in connection with litigation involving Mr. Trump’s personal businesses may have violated tax regulations that prohibit using nonprofit charities for private interests.

“That’s way across the line,” said Lloyd Mayer, a professor at Notre Dame Law School who specializes in nonprofit and tax law. “It’s not even close. It’s clearly self-dealing for a private foundation like the Trump Foundation.”

Mr. Mayer said he was surprised about the amount of money involved in the Trump expenditures. “I haven’t seen numbers this large before,” he said.
Watch this space.