Trump cannot dissolve his foundation while it is under criminal investigation


President-elect Donald Trump has announced plans to dissolve his charitable foundation. But in another showing of poor business acumen, he failed to account for the fact that the foundation is currently under criminal investigation and thus, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman points out, it cannot legally be dissolved.

Amid Donald Trump's many conflicts of interest is his eponymous foundation, which, while defending it, he has nevertheless now pledged to dissolve. It is the only portion of his conflicts that he has made plans to divest from completely — the others he has promised to place in a "half-blind trust" (spoiler: there is no such thing).

But it appears Trump's one move toward clearing his entanglements may not even be possible at present: His foundation, which is based out of New York City, is currently under investigation for criminal activities, including soliciting donations when it was not legally authorized to do so. As a result, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman noted, through his spokeswoman, that Trump cannot dissolve his foundation until the criminal investigation is complete.


Trump has hailed his foundation as a model of charitable giving, even claiming, as the foundation is under investigation, that "100% of money goes to wonderful charities."

Washington Post reporter David Farenthold has spent months doggedly investigating Trump's claims about his foundation and found that Trump appeared to use the foundation as a secondary bank account, frequently using its funds to pay for big expenses for himself. Famously, Trump once used foundation money to pay for a six-foot tall portrait of himself at an auction. It also used money donated to the foundation to settle many of Trump's personal lawsuits.

Additionally, Farenthold found, some donations solicited in the name of the foundation did not go to the charities specified, and many of the charities promised money from Trump never received a check.

Thus despite giving the public the impression of magnanimous philanthropy, Trump often used the foundation for self-aggrandizement and as a coffer for his own funds.

And now all that is coming back to bite him, as his attempts to finally dissolve the foundation, in a sop to demands that he address his conflicts of interest, are stymied by a criminal investigation.

Trump's smallest and reluctant efforts to unburden himself appear to be failing. It seems that Trump, the great businessman, did not see these complications coming.