New York state sued Thursday to dissolve President Donald Trump's family charitable foundation, claiming he engaged in "persistent illegal conduct" for more than a decade to benefit his personal, business and political interests.
The lawsuit, brought by Democratic state Attorney General Barbara Underwood, accused the Trump foundation of "extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign ... and violations of basic legal obligations for nonprofit foundations."
It claimed Trump, a real estate magnate-turned-Republican-politician, used the foundation's charity funds to pay his legal bills and promote his Trump-branded hotels, and for personal spending. The suit names the president and three of his adult children, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump, who were on the foundation's board, as defendants.
Underwood said the foundation "was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality." She is seeking $2.8 million in restitution.
"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 said in a statement.
Trump, in a pair of Twitter comments on his 72nd birthday, quickly called the lawsuit "ridiculous."
"I won't settle this case!" he said.
"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," Trump said, referring to Schneiderman's resignation last month after allegations surfaced that he had abused women he dated.
Trump contended that Schneiderman, who supported Trump's 2016 presidential challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton, "never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle."