Donald Trump has a long history of making promises to donate money and not following through — at least until repeated public pressure is put on him to do so. At the Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay is continuing to pressure Trump about one of these many promises:
Representatives for President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee still won’t say what the committee did—or plans to do—with the tens of millions of dollars it pledged to charity last year. And it may be many more months until the public finally knows.
The committee smashed the record for inauguration fundraising, bringing in about $107 million, double the sum raised for Barack Obama’s first inauguration, which held the previous record. But Trump’s inaugural committee only spent about half of that money. The rest, it said, would go to philanthropic ends.
More than a year later, no one knows what those ends will be.
A spokesperson for Tom Barrack, Trump’s personal friend and the chairman of the committee, told The Daily Beast on Dec. 8 that it would be filing an annual report detailing its charitable giving with the Internal Revenue Service “in the next several weeks.” It is now Feb. 12, and it still hasn’t done so and there is no indication of when it will.
This is not an isolated incident. It is part of a longstanding pattern. In March 2017, the Washington Post‘s David Fahrenthold published a long article about this pattern. One of the other major promises Trump made was to donate proceeds of foreign money going to the Trump Organization:
The Trump Organization — the president’s global real estate and branding business — pledged not to keep any profits that it made by renting hotel rooms and banquet halls to foreign governments. Those proceeds, Trump’s attorney said, would be given to the U.S. treasury.
. . . .
On Friday, for instance, the Trump Organization said it would not make its donations until the end of each calendar year. A spokeswoman provided few specifics about how the amount would be calculated.
Well, the 2017 calendar year is long since over, and as I told you on February 8, there are still no specifics — and there are unlikely to be anything like accurate specifics, ever:
Trump promised from the beginning that he would return foreign government payments to his hotel and other entities, but a year later there is no proof that he has — and it’s very unlikely he will provide said proof, since the Trump Organization is not even keeping track of that money.
Partisans got very upset at me for mentioning this fact in a post about Hillary and Uranium One. But it was central to the post’s theme about the potential for corruption when foreigners put cash in a politician’s pocket. And frankly, I no longer care what partisans say.
Trump’s pattern of promising donations is hardly new with his occupancy of the Oval Office. As detailed in the March 2017 WaPo piece linked above and previous pieces, Trump did this a lot in the past:
Washington Post reports last year highlighted past Trump promises of charity that months later had not come to fruition. In January 2016, for instance, Trump said he had donated $1 million of his own money — and raised an additional $5 million from others — for veterans’ charities. But Trump did not make good on his $1 million promise until four months later, under pressure from the media. Before he actually paid, Trump’s campaign manager made a false claim that the money had already been spent.
During last year’s presidential campaign, The Post also showed that Trump had spent years promising large donations to charity — building a public reputation as a man whose generosity was as impressive as his wealth.
But The Post found little evidence to show Trump’s actual generosity matched his boasting.
The Post called 450 charities that seemed close to the candidate — nonprofit groups that he had praised on Twitter or that had paid him to rent banquet space. It asked whether each had received a gift from Trump’s own pocket. That search turned up one donation from Trump himself between 2008 and 2015 — a gift of less than $10,000 to the Police Athletic League in New York City.
Remember how he promised to donate his “The Apprentice” salary to charity, and then took back the promise when it was revealed he wasn’t living up to it? That’s the guy we’re dealing with here.
Trump’s image as a guy who likes to donate money is as fraudulent as his pretense that he has a full head of hair. Yes, the guy who used to call up reporters and pretend to be his own spokesman, and who lied about it during the campaign, is a fraud and a pathological habitual liar.
But if we shrug our shoulders at his fraud and allow him to pocket tens of millions of dollars because nobody pushes him on it, then we normalize the fraud. So good for Lachlan Markay, for holding Trump’s feet to the fire.