As my colleague Matthew Chapman detailed, the breathless reporting on the Clinton Foundation yielded nothing but innuendo and speculation. When no evidence of wrongdoing was unearthed, it magically became a story about "optics," with pundits arguing something nefarious could have happened, even if nothing did.There is much, much more at the link. And the long and the short of the media's response to these new facts is this: Having set a high standard for how important even the appearance of wrongdoing is, this is a story they simply cannot ignore without a wholesale abandonment of all integrity and credibility.
By that standard, the newest revelations about the Trump Foundation from David Fahrenthold in the Washington Post should warrant round-the-clock coverage from now until Election Day—because there is much more to this story than the mere appearance, or possibility, of wrongdoing.
We have known for some time that Donald Trump was alleged to have used his charitable foundation to buy the compliance of two state attorney generals who were tasked with investigating fraud complaints against Trump University, and to buy retribution against another who refused to drop his investigation. He also used the foundation's money to purchase self-aggrandizing items such as a six-foot-tall portrait of himself.
Now, Fahrenthold reports that Trump used at least $258,000 from his foundation to settle lawsuits brought against his for-profit business, which may constitute a violation of laws regarding "self-dealing—which prohibit nonprofit leaders from using charity money to benefit themselves or their businesses."
...What is abundantly clear—at minimum—from these newest findings is that Trump has used the charitable foundation which bears his name to avoid having to spend a dime of his own money to settle lawsuits generated by his own businesses. The question that Trump needs is answer is: Why?
Was it simple greed—or was it a decision he made to help perpetuate another fraud? Is it possible, as some have speculated, that Trump, the self-proclaimed "king of debt," is not remotely as wealthy as he asserts and didn't even have enough liquid cash to fund these larger settlements?
That's a question Trump needs to be asked—and he cannot be taken at his word when he reflexively treats the question as absurd. He needs to provide verifiable evidence, e.g. his tax returns.
Posted by Melissa McEwan at Tuesday, September 20, 2016
I've got a new piece at Shareblue about the latest revelations regarding Donald Trump using his charitable foundation as a slush fund, which is definitely unethical and possibly illegal: