President Donald Trump can not run from the law, no matter how hard he tries. As the Russia investigation continues to close in around him, a New York judge has ruled that their state’s lawsuit over his now defunct foundation can proceed.
The president’s legal team on the case had sought to push a two pronged argument. They claimed that the state court itself didn’t have jurisdiction over the president of the United States and that Trump should be immune from the lawsuit altogether, separate from the jurisdictional complaint.
Justice Saliann Scarpulla — who sits on the New York Supreme Court — threw out both arguments.
‘In accordance with Clinton V. Jones and Zervos V. Trump, I find that I have jurisdiction over Mr. Trump and deny Respondents’ motion to dismiss the petition against him on jurisdictional grounds.’
An appeals court in New York had previously dismissed the president’s attempt to have a defamation lawsuit from Summer Zervos thrown out on similar grounds, the judge noted. Zervos has claimed that Trump sexually assaulted her in the aftermath of an appearance she made on The Apprentice, and she’s suing over the president dragging her name through the mud in response.
Clinton V. Jones was a case that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — which ruled, as Scarpulla did, that presidents have no immunity from lawsuits over behavior that unfolded before their presidency just because they sit in the Oval Office. Trump’s legal team could provide no counterexamples to prove the opposite, although they sought to argue as much.
In the now proceeding case, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is seeking restitution of $2.8 million plus penalties and a formal ban on the Trumps from sitting on charity boards in the state in the future, besides also pushing for the formal closure of the institution. She brought the civil suit after the previous state attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, had spent a considerable deal of time investigating the foundation, which has ceased operations but technically still exists.
Concurrently, New York state tax officials have been reported to have launched their own investigation into the foundation’s activities, and Underwood’s office has referred the case to the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Election Commission.
The foundation “functioned as a personal piggy bank to serve Trump’s business & political interests,” Underwood spokesperson Amy Spitalnick asserted.
As the AG’s lawsuit detailed, the Trump Foundation functioned as a personal piggy bank to serve Trump’s business & political interests
— Amy Spitalnick (@amyspitalnick) November 23, 2018
Money served Trump campaign interests and his personal interests to the point of foundation money going towards a painting of the eventual president.
Underwood herself added:
‘The Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests. There are rules that govern private foundations, and we intend to enforce them—no matter who runs the foundation.’
The president has lashed out against the lines of inquiry into his foundation — because of course he has. He called the lawsuit nothing but the work of “sleazy New York Democrats, and their now disgraced (and run out of town) A.G. Eric Schneiderman.”
However, the well documented truth of the matter remains, and the president can not escape that.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot