Trump says NY AG ‘mischaracterized’ his foundation judgment, ‘happy’ to pay $2 million fine

© REUTERS/Leah Millis / Free

US President Donald Trump has accused the NY attorney general of putting a spin on the court settlement that will see him pay $2 million to charities for improperly using the now-defunct Trump Foundation.

“The New York Attorney General is deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes,” Trump thundered in a Twitter statement on Thursday, describing the long-running litigation as “4 years of politically motivated harassment.”

Earlier in the day, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla ordered Trump to pay $2 million to charities already set to receive the foundation’s remaining cash assets as part of a court-approved settlement, saying he breached the fiduciary duty to his own foundation.

The breach refers to Trump allowing his presidential campaign, rather than the foundation itself, to run a televised fundraiser in Iowa in January 2016 and direct the distribution of the money collected.

Although the money was ultimately channeled to charities it was intended for, the fundraiser was used to “further” Trump’s political campaign, Scarpulla said. However, she rejected the prosecutors’ demands for the damage amount to be $2.8 million plus interest, and ruled out any punitive damages in the case.

As part of the settlement, Trump agreed to pay back $11,525 he admitted to “misusing,” largely spent buying champagne bottles and sports memorabilia at a charitable event.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat who became AG last November on the back of a highly politicized campaign, hailed the court’s decision as a “major victory” in her quest to “protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain.”

In his strongly-worded statement, Trump pushed back against the accusations, noting that the court dismissed James’ “frivolous request for statutory penalties, interest and other damages.”

Taking another swipe at James, he charged that the Democratic firebrand “does not acknowledge that we gave 100% of the funds to great charities,” while accusing her office of  being reluctant to look into the Clinton Foundation “with all of its problems.” However, Trump apparently could not help but embellish some of the story, saying that he would be “happy to donate $2 million” to the charities, despite being ordered to do so by the court.

In addition to admonishing the authorities in his former home base of New York, Trump bragged about his own contributions to charity, calling himself “perhaps the only person in history” who got publicly eviscerated for giving back to the community.

“I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19 M), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State. No wonder why we are all leaving!”

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