When it comes to questions about his charitable foundation, Donald Trump's answers don't fully add up. On Tuesday, while trying to explain away the latest Trump Foundation dustup, he may have accidentally reopened an earlier controversy.
Trump was trying to end speculation over what happened to the nearly $6 million he says he raised for U.S. military veterans' charities. He announced the contributions in late January; months later, various charities said they were still waiting to receive the promised sum.
During a Tuesday morning press conference at New York's Trump Tower, Trump explained that disbursing all the money naturally took a long time, because each contribution needed to first go through an extensive vetting process.
"When you send checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to people and to companies and to groups that you’ve never heard of, charitable organizations, you have to vet it," said Trump. "You send people out. You do a lot of work."
That explanation seemingly contradicts the Trump Foundation's prior claims about its own process. Two months ago, Foundation officials speaking to the Washington Post admitted to an error that would likely be impossible if every donation was so scrupulously vetted.
The Foundation officials were responding to reports that in 2013 they had given $25,000 to And Justice For All, a political organization supporting the re-election of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. The donation attracted controversy because it is illegal for tax-exempt charities like the Trump Foundation to support political candidates. Adding to the furor, And Justice For All received the donation shortly after Bondi announced she was contemplating legal action against Trump's defunct online seminar business, Trump University. Bondi never pursued the case.
The Trump Foundation admitted error in March, telling the Washington Post that they confused And Justice For All with another charitable organization called Justice For All.
The Foundation's confession came a week and a half after Washington advocacy group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the IRS, calling for an investigation into whether the And Justice For All donation violated federal law.
CREW spokesperson Jordan Libowitz told International Business Times that it would be completely appropriate for the Trump Foundation to vet any potential recipients of its largesse, as Trump claimed Tuesday. But the Foundation's explanation of the And Justice For All contribution belies that claim, he said.
"If this truly is how they operate, why was this not done in the Florida case?" said Libowitz in a statement. "And why did they describe a completely different process to reporters?"
One possible explanation would be that the Foundation changed its practices after discovering the Bondi error — but the Foundation said it didn't discover the error until late March, more than a month after Trump reported raising the nearly $6 million for veterans.
In the meantime, other evidence has surfaced that calls into question Trump's defense of the Foundation's practices. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that one of the veterans' charities to which he donated has received an "F" rating from a watchdog group.
A Trump spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.