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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

US court orders Donald Trump to pay $2 million as damages for misusing charity money

The court also ordered that the remaining funds of the charity, $1.8 million, be disbursed, along with the $2 million in damages, to charities not connected to the foundation and the president’s future role in a charity be closely supervised.

india Updated: Nov 08, 2019 21:31 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, November 8.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC on Friday, November 8. (Photo: Bloomberg)
         

A New York state judge on Thursday ordered President Donald Trump to pay $2 million in damages to charities after he admitted to using Trump Foundation funds to pay off debts owed by his for-profit businesses, further his presidential campaign and buy a portrait of himself for one of his properties.

The court also ordered that the remaining funds of the charity, $1.8 million, be disbursed, along with the $2 million in damages, to charities not connected to the foundation and the president’s future role in a charity be closely supervised. Also, his three adult children — Don, Ivanka and Eric — who were on the board of the foundation will undergo training to be made aware of how charities function.

“Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign,” New York Supreme Court Justice Salliann Scarpulla wrote in a seven-page order.

She was referring to a fundraiser Trump had held in January 2016 in Iowa for military veterans. The event had raised $2.8 million, which Trump, who was then running for the Republican presidential nomination, had disbursed through checks at his rallies leading up to the Iowa caucus.

The New York state attorney general had asked the court to slap a fine of the same amount on the president. But noting that the donations did eventually reach their intended beneficiaries, the judge wrote, “I award damages on the breach of fiduciary duty/waste claim against Mr. Trump in the amount of $2,000,000.”

But the president sought to play down the order. “All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes,” he wrote in a statement tweeted out in response to the order.

The president’s personal attorney sought to portray the $2 million damages awarded by the court as an “additional contribution” from the Trump Foundation.