U.S. President Donald Trump sits for a meeting in the White House. (Photographer: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via Bloomberg)

Trump Defends His Foundation as It Shuts Down Amid Criticism

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump defended his embattled personal foundation after it agreed to shut down amid allegations the nonprofit misused funds on political and business purposes.

The Donald J. Trump Foundation “has done great work and given away lots of money, both mine and others, to great charities over the years,” Trump said Wednesday in a tweet.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood sued the charity in June, alleging the foundation functioned as “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.”

Trump said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and other Democrats have “slammed” the charity with the lawsuit. He blasted former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who initiated the investigation, as a “sleazebag.”

“I wanted to close the Foundation so as not to be in conflict with politics,” Trump said in a tweet.

Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Underwood, said the attorney general filed the suit after an investigation “found a shocking pattern of flagrant and repeated illegality -- including willful self-dealing to serve Mr. Trump and his business and political interests.”

Spitalnick pointed to a ruling by the judge handling the case last month rejecting Trump’s request to dismiss the lawsuit on a claim of political bias.

Underwood and the foundation agreed to dissolve the charity and give away its remaining $1.7 million, according to filings Tuesday in state court in Manhattan. Trump’s charity announced in 2016 that it would dissolve, before Underwood sued the foundation along with Trump and his three eldest children. The state blocked that plan until it could establish oversight of the closure.

The charity’s dissolution doesn’t end the pending lawsuit against the president and Ivanka, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., who could be temporarily barred from serving as directors of any New York nonprofit. And unless an appeals court blocks the attorney general, the process of uncovering evidence in the suit may allow the state’s lawyers to reach into the Trump family’s financial dealings, where some of the president’s critics believe there will be evidence of improprieties.

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