A Washington Post report published yesterday found that Donald Trump used Trump Foundation money for his personal benefit, including more than $250,000 to settle legal problems for his business interests. Those instances appear to violate laws prohibiting charities from “self-dealing.” The report comes on the heels of the Trump Foundation paying a $2,500 tax penalty for an improper political gift to a committee supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R).
Tuesday night, Trump responded to the Post’s reporting. But instead of refuting any specific factual claims, his campaign released a statement baldly asserting “there was not, and could not be, any intent or motive for the Trump Foundation to make improper payments.” The campaign did not deny, however, that the improper payments occurred. Trump also smeared Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who has published a string of incriminating reports about his foundation.
Pressed about alleged Trump Foundation improprieties during a CNN interview Tuesday night, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said, “Mr. Trump has been incredibly generous throughout his career.” Her evidence? “I’m up in his office in Trump Tower routinely when he is writing — he is signing checks to help people. That isn’t even part of the foundation. I mean, could you imagine?” Yet Trump Foundation records indicate Trump hasn’t contributed any of his personal money to the foundation since 2008.
One thing that could clear up exactly how charitable Trump has been would be for him to release his tax returns. But in a move unprecedented for a modern major-party presidential candidate, Trump steadfastly refuses. Last week, Donald Trump Jr. said his father will not do so because it would create a “distraction” and people would have a lot of “questions.”
Trump has refused to answers questions from reporters about his taxes, the Trump Foundation, or anything else for weeks. He hasn’t held a press conference since one in late July where he encouraged Russian hackers to “find” tens of thousands of emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s server.
These days, he makes regular appearances on friendly Fox News programming, including a scheduled Wednesday night town hall discussion with Sean Hannity focusing on “African-American concerns.”
Hannity, who has never asked Trump a difficult question in hours of interviews, stars in a new Trump promotional video.