November 27, 2016

We don't want to forget this video from earlier this week. The Washington Post's David Fahrenthold spoke to CNN's Chris Cuomo about The Trump Foundation and how Trump's campaign fundraising "for veterans" broke the law.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: President-elect Donald Trump's charitable Foundation has been under scrutiny and is the subject of an investigation by the New York Attorney General. The Washington Post is now reporting a new revelation that the Foundation admitted to the IRS that it engaged in self-dealing and legally misusing it itself for business or his family. Joining us now is Washington Post reporter who broke that story David Fahrenthold. Happy Thanksgiving to you and the family. Good to have you with us.


CUOMO: Let's do this through the lens of the opposition it will receive. The first blush will be, what's new? Didn't we already hear this and it wasn't any big deal? What do you know?

FAHRENTHOLD: What's new is the Trump Foundation, Donald Trump is admitting to something for a long time they told the IRS they had never done which was take money in the charity that was meant for charitable purposes and spending it to benefit Trump or one of his family members or one of his businesses.

CUOMO: And the, so, and so what was the penalty and how can we substantiate as reporters that this matters?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the penalty we don't know yet. A separate IRS form that we haven't gotten a copy of yet -- that he broke this law and he will describe the penalty taxes or reimbursements he will have paid. I don't know that yet. I have asked for it but haven't gotten it. This is a man who is executing all the laws of the country. It's important to know. He has been running a federally certified charity for a long time. Has he been following the simple laws of running a charity?

CUOMO: Trump Foundation may have been receiving donations from foreigners during the campaign. How do we know and how much are we talking about?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the one example we know about is in this same tax filing. In September 2015 when Trump was already a pretty major candidate for President, he took $150,000 from a guy who is a Ukrainian steel magnate, $150,000 was in exchange for a 20-minute speech that Trump gave by video link. He got $150,000 for his charity. Now, the same Ukrainian was the guy who donated heavily to the Clinton Foundation and questions raised whether secretary Clinton as Secretary of State, showed him extra favoritism. Just one donation, but you see the potential here. This is a President-elect, who will be the President if he keeps the Trump Foundation open, this is a way for foreign governments and foreign businessmen to give a money to a cause close to Donald Trump. And because of IRS rules, we wouldn't know about it for a year or more after the gift came in.

CUOMO: You tuned in to the hypocrisy of what Trump was saying about Clinton, despite what might be going on with his own Foundation. That seemed to have also taken you down the road of what the Trump Foundation was doing during the campaign in addition to this type of foreign donation. What did you find?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the biggest thing that the Trump Foundation did during the campaign was, if you recall back in January Trump had the big fund-raiser in Iowa when he raised $6 million. A lot of that money went into the Trump Foundation. And then Donald Trump gave it out to people. This is money from other people. Trump would go on the road at campaign rallies and stop the rally and bring up a local veterans group and give them a giant, oversized Ed McMahon check with "Donald J. Trump Foundation" on the top, and say "Make America Great Again" on the bottom.


Now it is illegal to work the nonprofit work with that of a Presidential campaign. Trump obviously used the Donald Trump Foundation, again, other people's money, to boost his image in Iowa and New Hampshire and other places. That's another example. Something we might see them take a look into later on.

CUOMO: The idea of where that money went. I don't know what you found. Our Drew Griffin was looking. We were never able to account for all $6 million that he raised and said he sent off to veteran groups. Do you think that's accounting or about something else?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, what I found back then is that Trump took all the money in and said he raised $6 million including a million dollars of his own. He gave out a million dollars in high-profile gifts in the middle of his rallies and then stopped. I and Drew and other folks were trying to find if he gave away the money that people entrusted to him until much later, to give to groups. One, he was sitting on his million dollars. He hadn't actually given it out even after his campaign said he had. He didn't give away a lot of the money that people entrusted to him until much later. He had an angry press conference at Trump tower that you can't believe you're making me account for money and where it went. That was not an encouraging example of the way Trump views the public trust of being donated money to help others.

CUOMO: And the Foundation is another example of the advantage to Trump of a private concern. Right? Until it does its tax filing there is really no way unless you get good tips and really work at it as a reporter and work the story to understand the operations.

FAHRENTHOLD: It [The Trump Foundation] has to release its tax returns, unlike him. The way the IRS does this, all the information about 2016 won't have to be revealed until November of 2017. And same thing for the next year. So if Trump got a million dollars in his Foundation from some foreign government on the day he was inaugurated in January 2017, we wouldn't know about it until the end of November 2018. It makes it a very difficult way to -- very difficult place to watch. It's a back door that foreign governments or businessmen could use to influence Trump or suck up to Trump in a way that is really hard to watch until much later.

CUOMO: Hook me up, what are you look at next? Give me an advance of questions you're asking.

FAHRENTHOLD: A couple of things. One, how much did Trump actually pay in penalty taxes? What were the specific acts of self-dealing he admitted to. We found some big ones. He bought two giant portraits of himself from money from the charity. One he hung in his sports bar. He spent $250,000 to settle his business legal debts. All of those things are violations of the self-dealing law. Which ones does he admit to. I've asked again and again, how many foreign donations has he gotten since 2015 and how many did he get from foreign governments during 2016 and limit the conflicts of interest this will pose as President. Hillary Clinton signed an M.O.U. [memorandum of understanding] when she became Secretary of State and agreed to limit foreign donations. Will he do anything like that?

CUOMO: David Farhenthold, thanks for being on Good Day as always.

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