A federal judge ruled on Thursday that President Donald Trump must pay $2 million after finding that he used his Trump Foundation charity to further his 2016 campaign. Trump is ordered to make the payment to a collection of nonprofits.
The Trump Foundation shuttered in December of 2018 after the New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood began investigating it. The AG said that the foundation operated as “little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests.” The nonprofit was opened in 1987.
The attorney general also asked the judge to outlaw Trump from operating a charity ever again but that ban was not implemented, according to the New York Times.
Trump used the foundation to pay for some pretty absurd mementos, including shelling out $20,000 of the foundation’s money to buy a six-foot-tall portrait of himself. He also used the foundation’s money to buy a football helmet signed by former Bronco’s quarterback Tim Tebow.
In a statement, AG Underwood said in 2018, “Our petition detailed a shocking pattern of illegality involving the Trump Foundation — including unlawful coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing, and much more”
Trump’s lawyers have previously tried to defend the organization as a legitimate nonprofit and on the campaign trail, Trump caught frequent criticism for his nonprofit. During a debate, he claimed, “100% goes to different charities, including a lot of military. I don’t get anything, I don’t buy boats, I don’t buy planes.”
In the ruling, the judge wrote: “Mr. Trump’s fiduciary duty breaches included allowing his campaign to orchestrate the Fundraiser, allowing his campaign, instead of the Foundation, to direct distribution of the Funds, and using the Fundraiser and distribution of the Funds to further Mr. Trump’s political campaign.”
This is hardly the first time Donald Trump has been handed a loss over one of his schemes. In early 2018, a court approved a $25 million settlement over Trump University.