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Why Is The New York Attorney General Suing The Trumps? Their Nonprofit Is At The Center Of It

There's new legal troubles coming for President Donald Trump and his family. Why is the New York attorney general suing the Trumps? New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced on Thursday, June 14, that the state had filed a lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation — the Trumps' nonprofit — alleging "a pattern of persistent illegal conduct" that occurred over more than a decade. A spokesperson for the Trump Foundation called the lawsuit "politics at its very worst," saying,

The Foundation currently has $1.7 million remaining which the NYAG has been holding hostage for political gain. This is unconscionable — particularly because the Foundation previously announced its intention to dissolve more than a year and a half ago. The prior NYAG, who was recently forced to resign from office in disgrace, made it his stated mission to use this matter to not only advance his own political goals, but also for his own political fundraising.

President Trump weighed in on the matter on Twitter, saying that the lawsuit was a product of the "sleazy New York Democrats" and that he "won't settle this case!" Elite Daily also reached out to the White House for comment, but did not hear back immediately.

The petition filed on Thursday alleges extensive, unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations. The attorney general is seeking to dissolve the Trump Foundation and asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other Trump charities and that Trump is required to pay at least $2.8 million in penalties, according to a New York State Attorney General news release. The lawsuit also seeks to ban Trump from leading any New York-based nonprofits for 10 years — and one year each for the other board members in Trump's family, including Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.

“As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” claimed Underwood in a news release. “This is not how private foundations should function and my office intends to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for its misuse of charitable assets.”

More specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Trump used the Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses, and to purchase personal items. The attorney general news release continues,

In addition, at Mr. Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency, including in the days before the Iowa nominating caucuses.

In an attempt to smear the legitimacy of the lawsuit, in his Thursday tweet, President Trump took a swipe at the now-disgraced former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned in May after claims from multiple women that he abused them. (In a statement, Schneiderman denied the allegations, saying that he had "not assaulted anyone" and that he had "never engaged in nonconsensual sex.") With his tweets, as Trump often does with his detractors, he painted the justice system as partisan — an authoritarian tactic that undermines public trust in institutions that enforce rule of law. But the allegations in the lawsuit are serious and are the product of years of investigation from prosecutors.

Trump, who famously said during the presidential debates that he does not settle lawsuits, settled a $25 million lawsuit against Trump University just days after his election. The three-pronged lawsuit filed against his real estate school argued that the program featured false advertisements and empty promises.

This latest lawsuit isn't exactly a conventional birthday gift for the president, who turns 72 today. But it's the one he's got.