Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Trump Foundation in the Mind and Mouth of the Master of Mendacity

Scriber awards a few dozen pinocchios to Deceitful Donnie for his shameless lies about the Trump Foundation. Steve Benen (MSNBC/MaddowBlog) reports that Trump gets caught lying about his charitable foundation.

The short of it is that it charitable foundations abide by strict rules when it comes to what they spend money on. And political donations are illegal. It is now well known that the Trump Foundation crossed that line when it gave money to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s campaign. One of the consequences is that the Trump Foundation is now under investigation by the New York Attorney General.

Note in passing that the focus during the election was on the Clinton Foundation and the supposed, but never proved, pay-for-play. I blogged about the two foundations’ finances and spending here and here. The Clinton Foundation is fundamentally clean, I concluded. The Trump Foundation is not.

So what spin does the Mendacious Meister Deceitful Donnie put on it? Here are snippets from Benen’s report.

The president-elect nevertheless seems eager to talk about the end of his scandal-plagued foundation, arguing via Twitter last night that “all” of the money it raised was “given to charity.” He added soon after that “100%” of the millions raised went to “wonderful charities.”

We know Trump’s lying, in part because the Trump Foundation has already admitted that some of its money covered non-charitable expenses.

Trump used foundation money to buy giant portraits of himself. Trump used foundation money to make illegal campaign contributions. Trump used foundation money to settle private-sector lawsuits. Trump used foundation money to support conservative political entities that could help further his partisan ambitions.

A month ago, the Trump Foundation admitted in official documents that “it violated a legal prohibition against ‘self-dealing,’ which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.” The materials, filed with the IRS, were signed by Trump himself – so it’s not as if he can credibly claim he had no idea what was going on.

In other words, when Trump boasted last night that “100%” of the money raised by his foundation went to “wonderful charities,” it was one of the president-elect’s more obvious lies.

Indeed, what’s alarming about Trump’s latest deception is how brazen it is. The president-elect knows his claims are false, and he must realize that anyone with a passing familiarity with current events knows it, too. But Trump just doesn’t care about getting caught lying, in part because his followers don’t care, in part because he’s counting on news organizations to push back against his lies with kid gloves, and in part because he assumes much of the public will reject any evidence published by journalists.

The more inclined Trump is to keep this up-is-down experiment going, the more mind-numbing the next four years are going to be.

About that campaign contribution: I blogged about it back in September:

The appearance, if not the reality, that of pay-to- play. One requirement of causation is an antecedent-consequence relationship: Bondi asks for money, gets money, and drops investigation of Trump University. But perhaps more seriously, it looks like someone at the Trump Foundation, tried to cover up the Bondi donation by listing it as a nonexistent donation to that Kansas charity.

That’s Dirty Donald for you.

… since Trump can’t dissolve an entity while it’s still under investigation …” this matter of mendacity will be with us well past the inauguration date.

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