The New York attorney general’s office is suing Donald Trump over what it alleges is “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct” involving his charity foundation.
The suit names the president as a director of the Donald J Trump Foundation, alongside his sons Donald and Eric and daughter Ivanka.
The legal filing alleges “a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade” including “extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign”.
It also accuses the charity of conducting “repeated and wilful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr Trump’s personal and business interests”.
The president is accused of using the charitable assets of the foundation to “pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses, and to purchase personal items”.
New York attorney general Barbara Underwood has begun a special proceeding to dissolve the Trump foundation under court supervision and obtain restitution of $2.8m (£2.1m), alongside additional penalties.
The suit also alleges that the Trump charity raised in excess of $2.8m “in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign”.
Mr Trump responded to the filing with a series of tweets composed in under two minutes.
The president described the lawsuit as part of what he called “the Witch Hunt” and stressed “there was No Collusion and No Obstruction of the fabricated No Crime”.
He said: “The sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman, are doing everything they can to sue me on a foundation that took in $18,800,000 and gave out to charity more money than it took in, $19,200,000. I won’t settle this case!…”
Mr Schneiderman resigned as New York’s attorney general in May, and was replaced by Ms Underwood.
The president added: “….Schneiderman, who ran the Clinton campaign in New York, never had the guts to bring this ridiculous case, which lingered in their office for almost 2 years. Now he resigned his office in disgrace, and his disciples brought it when we would not settle.”
The attorney general’s office has also accused the Trump foundation of entering into “at least five self-dealing transactions that were unlawful because they benefited Mr Trump or businesses he controls”.
These included a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against Mr Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort; a $158,000 payment to settle legal claims against his Trump National Golf Club in 2008 from a hole-in-one tournament; and a $10,000 payment at a charity auction to purchase a painting of Mr Trump that was displayed at the Trump National Doral in Miami.
The attorney general’s office said that it was only after it began its investigation that the foundation paid excise taxes on three of the transactions, and that Mr Trump restored funds for those transactions to the charity.
However, the office alleges that the foundation has still not paid excise taxes on the Mar-a-Lago or Trump National Golf Club transactions.
In addition to the filing, the attorney general has sent referral letters to the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
(c) Sky News 2018: New York sues Donald Trump foundation for ‘persistent illegal conduct’