The many scandals of Donald Trump: A cheat sheet
By David A. Graham
The Donald J. Trump Foundation apparently admitted in filings with the IRS it broke federal rules against self-dealing, The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reports.
According to federal law, charitable organizations like the Trump Foundation cannot use their funds to help their leaders’ families or business interests. But during the presidential campaign, Fahrenthold laid out in a series of stories several ways in which the Trump Foundation seemed to have done just that. In some cases, the president-elect allegedly used the foundation as a slush fund to resolve his legal issues.
For example, in lieu of paying a fine to the city of Palm Beach, he agreed to make a charitable donation. In total, Fahrenthold found nearly $260,000 of such maneuvers. In other cases, the foundation purchased lavishly priced items—including over-sized portraits of Trump and a football helmet signed by struggling minor-league baseball player Tim Tebow—and appears to have given them to Trump as gifts.
Trump, the foundation, and his campaign would not admit any violations during the campaign. But on Monday, the Trump Foundation’s 2015 tax forms were posted on a website that tracks nonprofit filings.
The law firm that prepared the forms checked a box indicating that the foundation had transferred assets to a “disqualified person,” and another box saying it had done so in past years.
The forms don’t indicate what form the self-dealing took, what size, or when and where it occurred. But the foundation has apparently never admitted to such a violation in the past. Breaking the rules could produce fines, and leaders could be forced to reimburse the foundation for improper payouts.
Allegations of self-dealing are only one of the controversies facing the Trump Foundation. The New York attorney general is investigating whether the foundation solicited donations without the proper permits to do so. The charity may have also improperly given political donations. These gifts are particularly galling because, Trump seems to have begun using the foundation in the late 2000s as a way to inflate his own charitable giving—although he donated little or nothing, he raised money from others, gave it away, and then claimed credit.
When Trump recently settled a fraud case against the so-called Trump University, a real-estate seminar that plaintiffs described as a scam, the New York attorney general demanded assurances that the $25 million settlement would come out of Trump’s pocket and not from the foundation.
The 2016 presidential campaign saw a long string of stories showing scandals involving Trump, both large and small—from questionable business dealings to allegations of sexual assault. While they did not derail his presidential hopes, many of them remain live issues as Trump begins his transition to the White House.
The breadth of Trump’s controversies is truly yuge, ranging from allegations of mafia ties to unscrupulous business dealings, and from racial discrimination to alleged marital rape. They stretch over more than four decades, from the mid-1970s to the present day. To catalogue the full sweep of allegations would require thousands of words and lump together the trivial with the truly scandalous. Including business deals that have simply failed, without any hint of impropriety, would require thousands more. This is a snapshot of some of the most interesting and largest of those scandals.