KEY POINTS

  • Trump paid $2 million after lawsuit determined he misused charity funds
  • The lawsuit found Trump spent charity money on his 2016 campaign and portraits of himself
  • The prosecutor says the money will be given to eight "credible charities"

The charities chosen to receive the $2 million that President Donald Trump paid as damages in a case involving illegal use of charity funds may have been chosen deliberately as a dig at him. 

In a rare move against a sitting president, Trump was successfully sued by the state of New York in 2018 over the illegal usage of money intended for Trump’s charity organization. This week, the President paid the court-ordered $2 million in damages. New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement that the sum was donated to “eight credible charities.” The remaining $1.8 million held by the Donald J. Trump Foundation was also donated to these charities.

The Army Emergency Relief, the Children’s Aid Society, Citymeals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of National Capital Area and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum received over $475,000 each, said James.

The list by itself looks innocuous but the names may not have been chosen randomly. In the past, the President has targeted nationwide meals-on-wheels for funding cuts and, in 2017, the White House was heavily criticized for failing to mention Jewish victims in a public statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In her statement about the payout, James said her “office will continue to fight for accountability because no one is above the law – not a businessman, not a candidate for office and not even the president of the United States.”

The lawsuit over Trump’s charity organization eventually determined that he began misusing funds in order to help bankroll both his 2016 campaign and Pamela Bondi’s campaign for Florida attorney general, purchase portraits of himself, buy sports memorabilia and to pay off legal fees. Despite this, legal representatives for Trump, speaking on the recent court-ordered payout, insist that the his charity’s legacy remains “secure.”

The Donald J. Trump Foundation has been ordered closed following the lawsuit after originally opening in 1987. Trump will also now face special scrutiny if he intends to participate in any charity fundraising in New York.

In 2018, Trump paid a $25 million settlement after a lawsuit filed in California by students who attended Trump University said they were the victims of fraud. The students were also granted partial refunds for tuition paid.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz denied US President Donald Trump's claims that the FBI had spied on Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. US President Donald Trump faces ongoing legal troubles on multiple fronts Photo: AFP / Brendan Smialowski