President Donald Trump and three of his children were dealt a legal blow this week.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a lawsuit against Trump, three of his children, and the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Thursday, according to a press release.
Attorney General Underwood claims that Trump and his three adult children — Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, all board members of the foundation — have participated in a “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct” for over a decade, using the foundation to fund Trump’s other ventures, including his 2016 political campaign.
Underwood claims that the foundation engaged in “extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations,” NBC News reports.
Underwood called the foundation “little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.”
“This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets,” she added.
Underwood is seeking restitution to the tune of $2.8 million, in addition to penalties. Underwood is also asking a judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump foundation and to bar Trump from serving as director for any non-profit group in the state of New York for 10 years; she asks that the same limitations be placed upon his three children for one year each.
The attorney general’s office has also sent referral letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission for further investigation and legal action.
A spokesman for the Trump foundation responded to the lawsuit in a statement calling Underwood’s actions “politics at its very worst,” CNBC reports. The statement claims that the foundation has donated more money to charitable causes that it has received, with Trump having contributed more than $8 million himself.
The statement also accuses the attorney general of holding hostage the foundation’s remaining $1.7 million for “political gain.”
“The prior NYAG, who was recently forced to resign from office in disgrace, made it his stated mission to use this matter to not only advance his own political goals, but also for his own political fundraising,” the statement continued. “The acting NYAG's recent statement that battling the White House is ‘the most important work [she] have ever done’ shows that such political attacks will continue unabated.”
Trump responded to the news on Twitter, referencing Underwood’s predecessor Eric Schneiderman, who made headlines last month when he resigned following accusations that he’d abused four women.
“The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!” Trump wrote in a series of tweets.
[Photo: The Trump family at the opening of the Trump International Hotel in Washington DC on October 26, 2016. By Fred Watkins/ABC via Getty Images]