As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald Trump took great pride in boasting to the public that he doesn’t settle lawsuits. “I don’t settle cases,” the Republican bragged during a primary debate in March 2016. “I don’t do it because that’s why I don’t get sued very often, because I don’t settle, unlike a lot of other people.”
Indeed, in June 2018, when the president’s fraudulent charitable foundation was taken to court, Trump made a specific vow via Twitter: “I won’t settle this case!”
President Trump has paid $2 million in court-ordered damages for misusing funds in a tax-exempt charity he controlled, the New York Attorney General said Tuesday.The payment was ordered last month by a New York state judge, in an extraordinary rebuke to a sitting president. [...] Now, the foundation will be shuttered. But the consequences of this case will linger for Trump. Under the terms of the settlement, he has agreed to special supervision if he ever returns to charity work in New York.
The Washington Post had a related report last month on the developments, which added, “In a statement signed by Trump’s attorney, the president admitted to poor oversight of the charity.”
And while I’m sure the president isn’t pleased with the $2 million judgment, this case could’ve been much worse for Trump. We are, after all, talking about an entity that was supposed to be a charitable foundation, which Trump repeatedly misused for his own interests.
As regular readers may recall, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office compiled evidence of the president using his foundation “for his own benefit and [the] benefit of entities in which he had a financial interest.” Trump was accused of, among other things, using charitable assets to pay for portraits of himself, make political donations, pay for advertisements for Trump Hotels, settle lawsuits involving his business, and improperly intervening in the 2016 election.
According to one of the court filings in the case, the misuse of the charity was “willful and intentional.” Trump was “aware of” the legal limits, the state attorney general’s office concluded, but he ignored those limits anyway.
Given details like these, the president should consider himself lucky the judgment wasn’t more severe.
None of this, of course, should be confused with the $25 million settlement Trump had to pay in the Trump University case, in which the president ran a “school” that was little more than a scam created to take advantage of unsuspecting students who trusted the New York Republican.
It can be difficult at times to keep track of the multi-million-dollar settlements the president has had to pay in cases in which he was accused of perpetrating public frauds.
Postscript: In case this isn’t obvious, in 2016, voters were told Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both had charitable foundations, but Clinton’s was the controversial one. The irony is breathtaking.