Trump Attempts To Shut Down Foundation As Schneiderman Investigation Starts To Bite

Back in October this website predicted that the still on going investigation into the Trump Foundation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman could sink Trump once and for all, regardless of the election result. Last weekend, as everyone prepared to take time out for the holidays, the President Elect announced plans to shut down his controversial charity on what appears, at first glance, to be the pretext of avoiding conflicts of interest.

As revealed by the Guardian newspaper on Christmas Eve, the President Elect also appears to be in further trouble in relation to the Trump Organization, in that he has consistently failed to release his tax returns for what is to all intents and purposes a privately held corporation. This has created a situation in which the exact measure of his wealth cannot be properly assessed, a matter which the newspaper has referred to as flouting ‘longstanding tradition’; and although it is widely known that Trump owes $364m to Deutsche Bank nobody can say for sure exactly how much his own personal assets are actually worth at present.

A recent and highly critical report on the Baltimore based Real News Network described the President Elect’s Cabinet as a ‘Church of Neoliberal Evangelicals‘ who want to see ‘Government run as a business’. The exact nature of the kind of business that Trump appears to have been running in his commercial life before his election to the Presidency, however, would give any rational person serious cause for concern. Some of the problems that presently beset the Foundation relate to a scandal exposed by veteran ‘Washington Post‘ reporter David Fahrenthold involving, among other things, the use of some $258,000 in charitable donations to cover the costs of personal legal settlements relating to successful lawsuits by third parties involving his for-profit businesses activities.

On the same day as the Guardian published their article the BBC reported that New York Attorney General Schneiderman’s office had forbidden the President Elect, who is due to take his Oath of Office at a Presidential Inauguration Ceremony scheduled to take place on 20th January, to shut down the Foundation whilst the investigation is still on going. And, in spite of the President Elect’s claims to have ‘done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups’, it would appear that Mr. Trump himself has not actually made a single personal donation since 2008 if the Guardian and the Washington Post are to be believed.

Indeed, contrary to his claims that his charitable activities have included ‘supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children’ the most interesting ‘donation’, as far as the Schneiderman Investigation is concerned at any rate, was that made to a a political action committee backing Republican Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi in 2013. The fact that some $25,000 was paid to the campaign to get her reelected at the exact point in time when her office were on the verge of opening a fraud investigation into the now defunct Trump University is itself at the heart of the New York Attorney General’s current investigation.

The fact that the fraud investigation never went ahead, coupled with Mrs Bondi’s denials that the decision not to investigate was in any way influenced by the donation her support committee received, whilst Trump’s own staff have sought to pass the payment off as ‘a mistake resulting from clerical errors’, according to the BBC, has only roused further suspicions. As a result the New York State Attorney General’s spokeswoman has issued a statement saying that the charity cannot legally dissolve until the investigation is complete.

Following the Wall Street Journal’s simultaneous release of a statement by Trump saying that closure of the Trump Foundation would be ‘to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with’ his role as President, as well as enabling him ‘to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways’, it is perhaps worth asking just exactly what his idea of ‘philanthropy’ is and how he plans to pursue it? The Pam Bondi Affair has the outward appearance of being little more than a bribe to anyone who is impartial in these affairs. The only question is, how will it all look to a court if the Schneiderman Investigation is able to run its course without being interfered with, and is able to gather sufficient evidence to bring a case to trial? The answers are out there, truly out there.


Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore   Source:  flickr      Creative Commons with some rights reserved

Rupert Ferguson
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Rupert Ferguson

Journalist at Distract The Media
Rupert Ferguson is a published author, journalist and radical film maker with specialist interests in local government, politics, environmental issues and Traditional English and Scottish Folk Music. His academic work has been endorsed by the likes of Sir Melvyn Bragg, the late Sir James Watt KBE and the former head of Humanities at Bingley College in Yorkshire, England; James Reed.

Having begun his career as a junior researcher at Thames Television in London, he has written for a wide range of publications including 'The Brighton Reporter', 'Durham Town and Country', 'The Brighton and Hove People' and 'The New Celtic Review'. As an exhibited film maker he has been a regular contributor and award nominee at the Portobello Film Festival in London; and has seen his work shown at the annual London Film Makers' Convention at the prestigious Round House Theatre.

As well as receiving enthusiastic reviews from BBC Radio 4 and others for his book on Sir Walter Scott, his pioneering work as an Underground Film Maker on the fledgeling Goa Trance Scene has set him in a field of his own amongst many of his contemporaries; both in the UK, where he presently resides, and elsewhere. Current projects presently in hand include a book centred on his 'Legendary London' series of documentary films, which have stimulated an enthusiastic response from the likes of Glenda Jackson and others; and a novel set in France and Edinburgh during the eighteenth century Scottish Enlightenment.

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