NY judge orders Trump to pay $2 mn in damages to charities

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NEW YORK, Nov 8, 2019 (BSS/AFP) – A New York judge on Thursday ordered
Donald Trump to pay $2 million for using his former charity to further his
political and business interests, adding to the president’s legal woes.

Justice Saliann Scarpulla of the New York Supreme Court told him to pay the
damages to a group of non-profit organizations to settle a civil lawsuit
brought by state Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat.

James filed the lawsuit against the Trump Foundation in June last year,
accusing it of “persistently illegal conduct” that included improper
coordination between the charity and his campaign team during his 2016 White
House bid.

Trump agreed to shut down his personal charity in December but the suit
moved ahead regardless as prosecutors sought millions of dollars in
restitution and penalties.

“(The ruling) is a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable
assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal
gain,” James said in a statement.

The suit accused Trump of using foundation funds to settle lawsuits,
promote his Trump-branded hotels, and for personal spending, including the
purchase of a portrait of himself to display at one of his golf clubs.

It also said that in early 2016 while Trump was running for president, he
organized what was billed as a Trump Foundation fundraiser but was actually a
campaign event.

Trump accused James of “deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for
political purposes,” and said the resolution of the case was not damages, but
simply donations to the charities.

“Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to
hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses,” he said in a
statement.

“It has been 4 years of politically motivated harassment. (…) All they
found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical
violations, such as not keeping board minutes.”

The ruling was the third legal setback Trump suffered in his native New
York this week.

On Monday, a US appeals court ruled that he must release eight years of tax
returns which he promised during the campaign to make public after an audit,
but has since refused to share.

The same day, US magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of
rape, sued the president for defamation after he accused her of making up the
allegation.

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