Donald Trump, Trump Foundation sued by NY over 'unlawful political coordination'

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and President Donald Trump

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump and his three oldest adult children, accusing the president and his family of misusing Trump's charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, in a "pattern of illegal conduct".

Underwood called the foundation "little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his business to nonprofits" in the suit obtained by the paper.

Trump, who set up the foundation in 1987, attacked the lawsuit in several tweets blaming Democrat politicians.

The White House did not immediately respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

"This is politics at its very worst", the statement said, noting that the former NY attorney general who began the investigation, Democrat Eric Schneiderman, was a vocal Trump opponent.

She also asked that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties and that the sitting president be banned from heading up any other NY nonprofit organization for 10 years.

After New York's attorney general began investigating, Trump's business empire reimbursed the foundation for the money spent to settle the business disputes.

The lawsuit points to Trump's decision to refuse to participate in a Republican primary debate in Iowa in January 2016, and instead host a fundraiser to benefit veterans.

An official for the watchdog group Common Cause said the NY investigation provided details of actions that could also violate a federal ban on campaigns funneling "soft money" through nonprofits.

In addition to these allegations, the 40-page complaint says that the Foundation made false statements in filings with the Attorney General's office, wasted assets, and engaged in self-dealing. The foundation and campaign were in touch about how to disburse the funds, and Trump presented large presentation copies of supposed checks from the foundation to veterans' charities at his campaign rallies.

"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 spokesman added. At the time, a Bondi spokeswoman told the Orlando Sentinel that, "We are now reviewing the allegations in the NY complaint", but neither Bondi nor her office went further than that. If nothing else, Ms Underwood's action on Thursday moved the Trump Foundation closer to an end. Trump's tweets also pointed to Schneiderman's resignation and his support for Trump's 2016 Democratic presidential rival, Hillary Clinton. The petition further alleges that, after collecting the funds from the fundraiser, the political campaign (including Corey Lewandowski) was allowed to make direct the "timing, amounts and recipients" of the funds collected from the fundraiser.

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