Last month, Attorney General of New York, Barbara Underwood, filed a lawsuit against the Trump Foundation and its board of directors, alleging a pattern of illegal conduct that spanned over 10 years, and included political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign. At this time, many people wondered why Underwood would be pursing a civil suit rather than filing a criminal indictment against individuals within the foundation.
Yesterday, we may have have received an answer, as the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo came out and said that he is willing to provide the Attorney General with a criminal referral for the Trump Foundation.
“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state stands ready to provide the Attorney General with the appropriate criminal referral on this matter if and when she asks for it,” said Alphonso David, counsel to the governor, in an official statement. “At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state stands ready to provide the Attorney General with the appropriate criminal referral on this matter if and when she asks for it.”
The lawsuit that was brought against Trump last month, alleges that the foundation took part in “repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests.” It claims that the the Foundation took donations that were given to it and used them to benefit Donald Trump and/or his businesses, citing several payments of over $100,000 that were used to settle legal claims for Trump’s businesses as well as purchasing merchandise for Trump and/or his businesses.
This lawsuit also alleges that the “Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign.”
The remaining board members of the Trump Foundation are, Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric Trump, meaning that if criminal charges are brought, these three individuals and perhaps President Trump himself could be named as co-conspirators. We must also keep in mine that state crimes are not pardonable by the President of the United States, so if charges do happen to be brought against anyone within the Trump family over these allegations, President Trump’s hands will be tied.
“As our lawsuit against the Trump Foundation illustrates, we intend to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for all violations of state law,” explained Amy Spitalnick, the spokesperson for the New York Attorney General, to CNN. “We continue to evaluate the evidence to determine what additional actions may be warranted, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary. We’ve already referred apparent violations of federal law to the IRS and FEC.”
At this time there is no word on whether or not AG Barbara Underwood has any plans to charge anyone with any crimes related to the operation of the Trump Foundation, but we do know that if she does, it will have the backing of Governor Cuomo.
Just last night, the New York Times reported that the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance has opened an investigation into whether the Trump Foundation violated state tax laws.