On the September 12 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold exposed Donald Trump’s ‘charitable foundation’ for what it really is.
BROOKE BALDWIN (HOST): A new report is raising all kinds of questions today about exactly how charitable Donald Trump really is. This is The Washington Post. They took an in-depth look into the Trump Foundation and found virtually all of the contributions made by Donald Trump’s foundation philanthropy arm now come from other charities. On top of that, the report indicates Trump stopped donating to the charity after 2008. David Fahrenthold has been working on this for a couple of months, he is the Washington Post reporter who investigated the Trump Foundation, and joins me now. David, nice to see you. Lots and lots of questions, beginning with, how does this work? I mean, how does a charity like the Trump Foundation, give away other charities’ monies and then take the credit?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: Well, it’s a really unusual situation. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are experts in the world of nonprofits and they say this basically never happens. If there is — normally, if you start a foundation, you put your name on it, and you’re a famously wealthy person, the expectation is the money in the foundation was originally your money that you gave to the foundation. And that’s how Trump’s Foundation started. But about 10 years ago he made a change, and now he doesn’t put any money into his own foundation, he takes in others donors’ money, and he gives it away as the Donald Trump Foundation’s money, and the expectation and the assumption among the people who get it is that this is Donald Trump’s money, because that’s how everybody else does it. But in fact he’s sort of engineered a way to look like he’s being charitable without actually spending a dollar out of his own pocket.
BALDWIN: But he said a number of times out on the campaign trail that he has donated millions of dollars to charity. Could you corroborate that?
FAHRENTHOLD: No. So, we looked at the Trump Foundation, where we expected to find evidence of that giving and haven’t seen it since 2008. And I’ve looked at a lot of other places, too. Between 2008 and this May, when he gave that $1 million donation to the veterans under a lot of media pressure, in that period from 2008 to this May, I can find one gift from Donald Trump’s own pocket. And that was for less than $10,000 in 2009. And earlier this year he also released a list of what he said were his charitable contribution over the last 10 years — or last five years. None of that was a donation from his own pocket. Most of it was free rounds of golf given away by his golf courses.
BALDWIN: In terms of foundation itself, the way you describe it, threadbare, skeleton staff, mainly Trump family members who spend about a half hour a week working on the foundation. Tell me more about that.
FAHRENTHOLD: So, Trump started this foundation in 1987. And you think of a foundation, you know, just to put it in the context of, say, the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation, whatever you think of it, is really big. It has a lot of employees, it has over 2,000 employees, hundreds of millions of dollars come through it every year. You know, there are obviously questions about how that foundation was run. Trump’s foundation by contrast has only ever had, its most money it’s ever had in the bank was about $3 million. And that was after Vince McMahon, the wrestling mogul, gave Trump a bunch of money a few years ago. So, now it has about $1.3 million in the bank. And there’s no staff, there’s no paid staff. The board of directors is four Trumps, Donald, Donald junior, Ivanka, Eric, and one Trump Foundation — Trump Organization staffer. So it’s basically — it exists basically on paper. Its gifts — you know, other big charitable donors give away for the same causes year after year. They give lots of money to their alma mater, or to a particular research cause they believe in. Trump’s gifts don’t seem to have that pattern. He gives sort of sporadically, a little bit here, a little bit there, mostly to people who do business, charities that do business at his club in Florida or to people that he sort of meets socially.
BALDWIN: And then, of course, all of this, as I’m listening to you and you read your piece in The Washington Post, therein lies the question, well then if he just releases his tax returns, we would know what’s the true story.
Transcript via Media Matters.