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Democrats call for probe of Trump check to Florida AG

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump walks in the rain with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as they arrive at a campaign rally in Tampa, Fla.

WASHINGTON >> House Democrats called Tuesday for a federal criminal investigation into an improper $25,000 donation Donald Trump’s charity made to a political group supporting Florida’s attorney general after her office said it was weighing legal action against Trump University.

The call for a federal investigation came the same day that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman disclosed that his office has been investigating Trump’s charity to determine whether it has abided by state laws governing nonprofits.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show Schneiderman’s scrutiny of The Donald J. Trump Foundation dates back to at least June, when his office formally questioned the donation made by the charity to a group supporting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

The AP first reported in June that Bondi personally solicited the money during a 2013 phone call that came after her office received complaints from former students claiming they were scammed by Trump’s namesake get-rich-quick real estate seminars.

The Trump Foundation check arrived just days after Bondi’s office told a newspaper it was reviewing a lawsuit against Trump University filed by Schneiderman. Bondi’s office never sued Trump, though she denies his donation played any role in that decision.

The Republican presidential nominee later paid a $2,500 fine over the check from his foundation because it violated federal law barring charities from making political contributions.

In a letter that all 16 Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, ranking member John Conyers of Michigan said federal investigators should determine whether the 2013 donation and Bondi’s decision not to join the New York lawsuit violated federal bribery or tax laws.

“This fact pattern indicates that these payments may have influenced Mrs. Bondi’s official decision not to participate in litigation against Mr. Trump,” Conyers wrote, specifically citing the reporting of AP and others. “A number of criminal statutes would appear to be implicated by this course of conduct.”

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr confirmed receipt of the letter Tuesday, but declined to comment on it.

Bondi has endorsed Trump’s presidential bid and has appeared with him this year on the campaign trail.

She has said the timing of Trump’s donation was coincidental and that she wasn’t personally aware of the consumer complaints her office had received about Trump University and the Trump Institute, a separate Florida business that licensed the Trump name and curriculum.

Neither company was still offering seminars by the time Bondi took office in 2011, though dissatisfied former customers were still seeking promised refunds.

Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks confirmed to AP that Trump and Bondi spoke before his charity donated to a group supporting her candidacy, but says they didn’t discuss any potential lawsuit. Neither Trump’s or Bondi’s spokespeople has responded to questions about what the two did discuss, or provided the exact date of the call.

Trump has boasted in the past that he expects and receives favors from politicians to whom he gives money.

“When I want something I get it,” Trump said at an Iowa rally in January. “When I call, they kiss my ass. It’s true.”

In an interview Tuesday on CNN, Schneiderman, a Democrat who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, said his office has been looking into the Trump Foundation to determine whether it has complied with New York laws governing nonprofits.

“We have been concerned that the Trump Foundation may have engaged in some impropriety from that point of view,” Schneiderman told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“And we’ve inquired into it, and we’ve had correspondence with them. I didn’t make a big deal out of it or hold a press conference, but we have been looking into the Trump Foundation to make sure it’s complying with the laws that govern charities in New York,” Schneiderman said.

Late Tuesday, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller dismissed Schneiderman’s inquiry as politically motivated.

“Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a partisan hack who has turned a blind eye to the Clinton Foundation for years and has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President,” Miller said in a written statement.

Trump’s campaign has said the improper foundation check to support Bondi’s re-election was the result of a series of clerical errors, and that the billionaire businessman had intended to support Bondi with personal funds.

The Trump Foundation on its 2013 tax return then incorrectly reported that the $25,000 was paid not to the pro-Bondi political group, but to a similarly named charity in Kansas that got no Trump money.

The Washington Post first reported that Trump’s charity paid an IRS penalty of $2,500 earlier this year, following media reports about the impermissible 2013 donation.

Trump’s foundation, which for years has been funded by money the billionaire businessman raises from others rather than his own cash, has come under increasing scrutiny following reports by the Post, AP and others.

In May, the Post reported that most of the $6 million Trump said he raised for veterans groups at a highly publicized January event wasn’t distributed until the newspaper began asking questions. After his campaign released a list of groups receiving about $5.6 million, about half of the 30 reached by AP said they’d received checks around the time of Trump’s May 24 Post interview.

In an extensive review earlier this month, the Post found four charities that said they never received money even though the Trump Foundation reported making donations to them.

A New Yorker, Trump owns a Florida home as well as resorts and golf courses in the state. Records show he has made $253,500 in political donations there since 1999, most of it going to Republican candidates, the state party or GOP committees.

His daughter, Ivanka Trump, gave a $500 personal check to Bondi a week before her father’s charity money came in, as well as another $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida the following year.

Donald Trump also hosted a March 2014 fundraiser for Bondi on the lawn of his palatial Mar-a-Lago Club. Attendees were asked to give the $3,000 maximum individual donation allowed under state law.

Records show that Bondi’s re-election campaign received 24 checks totaling $57,000 on the date of the Trump fundraiser. Justice for All, the political committee supporting Bondi, also took in $30,000 that day.

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Associated Press writer Gary Fineout in Tallahassee, Fla., and Jake Pearson in New York contributed to this report.

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Follow Associated Press reporters Michael Biesecker at http://twitter.com/mbieseck and Chad Day at http://twitter.com/ChadSDay

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  • Just for the record. Mr. Trump and his legal team must accept the Democrats proposal and begin a full discloser hearing on the Trump Foundation. For certain, invite the NY AG to witness and work with assigned House committee for transparency. This decision will force the Clinton Foundation to also provide all its operational and financial records. Fair is fair.

    • It might help if you did five minutes of research on what Mr. Schneiderman is doing, and what his legal authority is.

      It has nothing whatever to do with any House committee, or hearing. Nothing.

      Just once – please – just once write something accurate.

      • Klastri, Wow, I posted that the House Committee, if they conduct a hearing on the Trump Foundation, as requested by the Democrat leadership do invite NYAG to witness the hearing. Is not the NYAG investigating the Trump Foundation? Or, is there something you fear that is hidden by the Democrats?

  • A entirely sham charitable donation, consistent with most parts of his life, it is a series of embellishments, hyperbole and self-aggrandizement. He and his surrogates say he gave away tens of millions of dollars. First, that is an entirely bold face lie–at its peak, it held about 3.9 million dollars, and that was in 2009, and the money was donated. Second, Trump has not given to his own foundation in almost 9 years, most of the money is via corporate donations in which he then takes credit for……Compared to other billionaires, he have foundations in the billions (see gates or Buffett ) he has given a tiny tiny crumb away, and he lies even about that….

    The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a different beast, as he highlighted when explaining why he doesn’t fund it. “If I give money through the foundation, then every charity looks at me and says, Could you do that? Could you give me this?” he said, explaining that he doesn’t “consider the foundation to be a major part of my giving.”

    That answer raises a few obvious questions:

    Does loudly proclaiming that you gave away $100 million over five years, but not through a foundation, somehow stop people from seeking your money?
    If you’re averse to using your charitable foundation for charitable giving, why maintain it?
    Who were the recipients of the $100 million you claim to have given?
    Trump was asked that last question and remained cagey:

    Donald Trump: I give mostly to a lot of different groups.

    Drew Harwell: Can you give us any names? One name, two names.

    Trump: No, I don’t want to. No, I don’t want to because––

    Harwell: Dollar amounts at times? What— ?

    Trump: No. I’d like to keep it private. But the foundation is not my primary form of giving. It’s a form, but it’s––

    Harwell: What became of that $3 million you said you raised for vets but you haven’t given away yet?

    Trump: The money for the vets? I have given a lot of money to the vets. I gave a lot.
    At the time, the whole interview made me suspicious.

    Some make a spectacle of their charitable giving. Others give without ever letting on. There are even people who eagerly talked about a particular charitable organization they support, in hopes of raising awareness or because they’re so involved in the work, but prefer to donate quietly, in keeping with the counsel of scripture.

    What I have never encountered is someone positively eager to brag loudly about the sums that they donate, but totally unwilling to name any organization they support or people who they have helped. Trump strikes me as an especially unlikely man to possess that attribute. If a hypothetical charity wrote him to say his donation of mosquito nets saved 100 lives, he seems like the type who would inflate the number tenfold and talk about his huge win over malaria, which many people say is terrible, not the type to never tell anyone about the people his generosity helped.

    Still, I didn’t write that months ago when the interview was published because, for all my suspicions, I couldn’t prove Trump is the sort who wants to be seen as more generous than he is (an impression that was bolstered when he failed to make good on pledges to donate to veterans’ charities until he was hounded by the media to do so); or that he was hiding a discrediting secret associated with his charity.

    Now, thanks to reporters who shared skepticism of Trump’s rhetoric and spent months uncovering what he has been trying to hide, both suspicions can be substantiated:

    Donald Trump used his foundation to appear more generous than his giving warranted.
    And Trump used his charitable foundation to funnel money to a suspicious cause, breaking tax laws and appearing to engage in serious political corruption.
    It remains theoretically possible, if highly improbable, that the GOP nominee has also hidden massive amounts of charitable giving that months of investigation by reporters has failed to turn up. Regardless, what they have found in their search is damning. And the national press has failed to adequately press the candidate on his behavior.

    A Notepad of Gifts Not Given

    No one has been trying harder to substantiate Donald Trump’s claims about his own generosity than David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post. Fahrenthold began by identifying charities with close ties to the billionaire. “Some got money from the Trump Foundation. In other cases, Trump had a personal connection to the charity or its leaders . Some were charities that DonorSearch database records indicated he might have given to. A variety of other reasons included media mentions, gala attendance, or involvement with Trump’s TV show ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’” the article explained. “So far, The Post’s search has turned up little. Between 2008 and this May — when Trump made good on a pledge to give $1 million to a veterans’ group — its search has identified just one personal gift from Trump’s own pocket.”

    For example: Trump once approached a New Jersey charity called the Charles Evans Foundation and asked them to donate to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, citing efforts to raise funds for the Palm Beach Police Foundation. “The Evans Foundation said yes,” Fahrenthold reported. “In 2009 and 2010, it gave a total of $150,000 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, a small charity that the Republican presidential nominee founded in 1987. Then, Trump’s foundation turned around and made donations to the police group in South Florida. In those years, the Trump Foundation’s gifts totaled $150,000. Trump had effectively turned the Evans Foundation’s gifts into his own gifts, without adding any money of his own.”

    How could Trump have made money on the deal? The Florida police group gave Trump an award for his giving (which was actually Trump giving them money he got from someone else). Trump dressed up in a tuxedo to accept the honor that he didn’t deserve. And “on the night that he won the Palm Tree Award for his philanthropy, Trump may have actually made money,” Fahrenthold reports. “The gala was held at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, and the police foundation paid to rent the room. It’s unclear how much was paid in 2010, but the police foundation reported in its tax filings that it rented Mar-a-Lago in 2014 for $276,463.”

    For Trump, that wasn’t a one-time transgression. There were other occasions when he courted public esteem for charitable giving, but actually used foundation money:

    The Trump Foundation … even gives in situations in which Trump publicly put himself on the hook for a donation—as when he promised a gift ‘out of my wallet’ on NBC’s ‘The Celebrity Apprentice,’” The Post investigation concluded. “The Trump Foundation paid off most of those on-air promises. A TV production company paid others. The Post could find no instance in which a celebrity’s charity got a gift from Trump’s own wallet. Another time, Trump went on TV’s “Extra” for a contest called ‘Trump pays your bills!’ A professional spray-tanner won.

    The Trump Foundation paid her bills.
    Remember, the Trump Foundation doesn’t use Trump’s money. In other words, the masses watching on television were egregiously misled about Trump’s generosity.

    The Atlantic

        • Pneumonia is a serious disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year about 50-thousand people in the U.S. die of pneumonia. While successful pneumonia treatment often leads to full recovery, it can have longer term consequences: “worsened exercise ability, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, and quality of life for months or years.” How much does it matter? Perhaps not much. After all, any of us could drop dead tomorrow. It will be up to Americans to decide whether this is an issue that matters to their vote. It’s up to the news media to try to get at the facts rather than advance either candidate’s narratives.

    • This is not the Donald from three months ago. The screaming,arrogant,lock up the mexicans,blood coming out from her ears,my wife is more beautiful then Cruz wife. Now he’s talking softly. Not insulting. He’s changing his Mexican stand. Lol,what a fake bag. Show us your taxes.

  • Crooked Donald! Lying Trump!
    Crooked Donald! Lying Trump!
    Crooked Donald! Lying Trump!

    Or we could call him “The Con Artist.” Don’t vote for the Con Artist!

    • That’s it??? You’re excited about trump lies, yet not at all about the repeat, in your face, every day layer cake of blatantly obvious lies, even when the truth would serve perfectly, produced by Hillary Clinton. William Safire, years ago, was right. Hillary is a reflexive, congenital liar, now resorting to lying about previous lies about much earlier lies.

  • Democrats: “Oh man, Hillary is in trouble. Getting caught being dumped into a van like a sack of potatoes. More guys pleading the 5th in front of Congress. We need to think of something to distract our Gruber voters. Hmm…”

  • there’s nothing wrong with that, hell Hillary and all the liberal democrats do that in Washington, hell even the liberal democrats down here do that. everybody got there fingers in the pie. the AP is just trying to stir up something and the liberal press like SA likes to print no nothing articles.

    • Yes, of course. The AP and the SA both forced Mr. Trump to illegally write a charitable foundation check to a politician. And then they forced Mr. Trump to lie about it to the IRS. Of course.

      That makes as much sense as anything else you write, so good for you!

      • what also is the truth the U.S. AG got donations from obama and Hillary not to prosecute them, her for breaking the law, and not going to jail, and Obama should go to jail and be impeached for breaking more than a hundred constitutional laws. so like I said there’s a lot to go around. oh by the way, come on let the commenters know the joke that lawyer Hillary would do, what’s the difference between a lawyer and a prostitute were still waiting.

        • You’re making stuff up. Or maybe just spitting out stuff Trump and others are making up.

          It’s always better to do a LITTLE unbiased research, do SOME clear thinking. Don’t vote for a con artist.

        • You’re lying of course. No one gave the United States Attorney General any donations.

          Can’t you ever write anything that’s true? Ever?

          “Constitutional laws?” WOW!

        • not making stuff up, because the U.S. AG would have prosecuted them already and she won’t because she got something under the table from them. don’t you know that’s how liberals with mental disorders do things. there good at hiding law breaking stuff.

        • and also bill Clinton already met with the AG at the airport, and paid her off with money from there foundation.

        • and also remember bill Clinton already met the AG at the airport and paid her off with money, she will get from the Clinton foundation.

        • no don’t need to do nothing like that, you know it was on the news a couple of months ago Billy met the AG at the airport, you just don’t want to be reminded of that. still waiting for the answer of the joke what’s the difference between lawyer Hillary and a prostitute.

        • I guess you can’t answer that, because you are on drugs tonight so I will give the commenters the answer. the answer was a prostitute won’t sc–w you when your dead.

        • 64hoo – Are you always angry and bitter because you can’t spell or construct coherent sentences?

          It’s you’re. Not your.

        • Hard to comprehend when you don’t know the difference between a period, comma, or a semicolon. But hang in there. Most schools teach that in the eighth or ninth grade.

        • 64hoo – Except that, obviously, you are not stating facts. You’re making things up out of think air like you always do. You just made up the story about money changing hands.

          You wrote: “AG at the airport, and paid her off with money from there (sic) foundation.” That didn’t happen. You lied about that, which is your standard practice.

          It might help if you started writing things that were true.

        • And of course klas and the monkey are able to prove unquestionably that no misconduct or bribes took place between Bill and the AG. What we do have is the word of both, one being an appointed public official facing an administration change, the other a documented liar. Yet no suspicions should arise, as this obviously inappropriate meeting was conducted by an attorney and a former Rhodes scholar, neither of which apparently had the foresight to see the potential ramifications. After all, grandchildren can prompt us to do some pretty silly things…

        • NO one needs to “prove unquestionably that no misconduct or bribes took place between Bill and the AG.” It’s always a possibility that any public figure(s) are corrupt. But you need EVIDENCE when bringing up your first accusation. All anyone knows is that they happened to meet at an airport and had a little conversation.

          There is actual strong EVIDENCE that your hero Donald J Trump did a bunch of crooked donating. YOU should investigate; YOU should want to know whether he’s trustworthy enough to be your POTUS.

          Ask yourself, “Will he cheat and disregard me once he’s in office, like he did to all those employees and contractors he stiffed numerous times? If you do your research, you will find that to be true.

        • Then perhaps you ought to remind your friend that he has no more right to say “That didn’t happen. You lied about that, which is your standard practice.”, than 64 does to say that it did. And of course since I made no accusation in my comment, we can see precisely how truthful you are as well…

    • If Trump is the great moral genius leader you thought he was, he wouldn’t be getting caught making illegal, self-serving donations.

      And he wouldn’t have to resort to name-calling as his number one campaign strategy.

      It’s time to find a new role model.

        • Clinton’s presence aboard Jeffrey Epstein’s Boeing 727 on 11 occasions has been reported, but flight logs show the number is more than double that, and trips between 2001 and 2003 included extended junkets around the world with Epstein and fellow passengers identified on manifests by their initials or first names, including “Tatiana.” The tricked-out jet earned its Nabakov-inspired nickname because it was reportedly outfitted with a bed where passengers had group sex with young girls.

        • The point is Keoningohan, is that at least Hillary doesn’t go around stiffing young girls. But you go ahead and vote for the scum bucket.

      • First of all in case you missed it, Humpty Dumpty is a metaphor for Bill’s wife. Anyway, while her handlers are dusting her off and adjusting the meds the dems have to go on offense since they’ re running out of defense tactics. The double whammy of the very public fainting episode and the deplorable comment over a 2 day period put them back on their heels. Hence the resurrection of these specious and baseless charges against Trump. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. Bill’s wife was just supposed to waltz into the oval office as if it were her birthright. Now, like cornered animals, look for the Clinton Machine to dig ever deeper in a desperate attempt to discredit The Donald. Pretty pathetic, no?

        • You might want to ask your doctor for a prescription of Adderall or Ritalin. If he asks why, tell him you “sometimes” go off topic.

        • You know you act that Hillary is the first person to ever become sick. She is not. Hillary’s health is not a concern of mine. The main stream press giving the Donald a pass on so many things, is. When is the press going to demand the Donald’s tax Returns? A real doctor’s evaluation and not some paid phony on TV? Why is the press not questioning The Donald’s involvement with Russia? At least Newsweek has come out with something. Now where is everyone else?

        • Yeah, what Boots said! So what if Hilary occasionally passes out and cant remember stuff. What’s the big deal—-it’s not like she has to actually “remember” the nuke codes or be conscious all the time during her presidency. (Well, not remembering how many times she’s keeled over is just a wee bit troubling).

      • The best part of this story is that Trump illegally issued a $20,000 check from the foundation to buy a 6 foot tall portrait of himself.

        He’s a psychotic. In addition to being a tax cheat.

  • Oh yeah, let’s focus on $25 K and not the billions flowing in/around/thru the Clinton Foundation which actually dispenses about 9% of its income to charity.

    • CORRECTION: The Clinton Foundation is a highly regarded organization with an A rating. Even though you were probably a C- or D student in middle school, you can probably comprehend that “A” is good. For the foundation, 88% of its funds go to actual use in saving and improving lives.

      CLICK and READ: https://www.charitywatch.org/ratings-and-metrics/bill-hillary-chelsea-clinton-foundation/478

      FACT 1: Some of its biggest donors are Nobel Prize winners. They also had dealings with the State Department, as they are promoting peace. After becoming familiar with the good work of the foundation, they donated money for the worthy causes. So there’s an indirect connection between foundation and State Dept, but nothing corrupt.

      FACT 2: Bill and Hillary do NOT get any personal profits from the foundation. If they actually did, they would be in prison—and no “liberal media bias” would save them.

      FACT 3: Trump’s “donations” ARE crooked; there is undeniable evidence of that (unless YOU have your head up your arse and don’t want to know). He’s often made donations illegally or sneakily. For example, having his company pay, but taking personal credit.

      FACT 4: Trump often admittedly uses “donations” as bribes. He bribed the Florida attorney general so that she wouldn’t pursue charges for his Trump University scam.

      FACT 5: You have been a BAAAAAAAD student. Read and learn.

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