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Trump Foundation illegally helped Trump, his campaign, New York AG's suit claims

The New York AG said President Donald Trump used money in the foundation for his personal benefit. (Source: CNN) The New York AG said President Donald Trump used money in the foundation for his personal benefit. (Source: CNN)
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed suit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Thursday, alleging the president used the charity for personal gain. (Source: Spectrum News Albany/CNN) New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed suit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Thursday, alleging the president used the charity for personal gain. (Source: Spectrum News Albany/CNN)

NEW YORK (RNN) - The New York Attorney General has filed suit on Thursday against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, naming President Trump and three of his children.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in the lawsuit that the foundation engaged in a pattern of illegal self-dealing.

She asked a state judge to dissolve the Trump Foundation in the filing, saying the president repeatedly misused the money within the nonprofit for his own use, including paying debts, according to a New York state investigation.

"Our investigation found that the Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million 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," Underwood said in a tweet.

Senior campaign officials "dictated the timing, amounts, and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits," according to the attorney general.

The foundation also allegedly benefitted Trump or his businesses at least five times, including a "$100K payment to settle legal claims against Mr. Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, $158K to settle legal claims against Trump National Golf Club, and $10K to purchase a painting of Mr. Trump displayed at the Trump National Doral," Underwood tweeted.

The state is seeking restitution of $2.8 million plus penalties, and sent referral letters to the IRS and FEC for further investigation and legal action.

Underwood also asked that Trump be barred from leading a nonprofit for 10 years.

Three of the president's children - Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. - are also named in the lawsuit because they are board members of the nonprofit.

Trump responded to the lawsuit news in a series of tweets, saying in part, "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!"

New York state's investigation into the Trump Foundation has been going on since 2016. 

In November, the foundation filed documents saying it would wind down to avoid conflicts of interest. 

"The foundation announced its intent to dissolve and is seeking approval to distribute its remaining funds" to other charities, according to a 2016 Internal Revenue Service filing. 

New York's attorney general ordered the foundation to stop soliciting contributions in October 2016.

In a previous tax filing, the foundation said it violated a legal prohibition against a "self-dealing" that bars nonprofit leaders from funneling their charity's money to themselves, their businesses or their families.

Underwood took over for former AG Eric Schneiderman in May after he resigned amid claims he abused women. He has denied the claims.

Thursday is President Trump's 72nd birthday.

Copyright 2018 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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