Trump Needed To Use $10K In Charity Money For Portrait Of Himself Because No Else Wanted It, His Lawyer Says

President Donald Trump
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Donald Trump spent $10,000 on a portrait of himself at an auction in 2014 because no one else wanted it, lawyers claimed in a Manhattan court on Thursday.

As the New York Post reports, this painting debacle is part of a lawsuit that’s been brought against Donald Trump by New York’s state attorney general for misappropriation of charity money.

According to the article, Trump wanted to get the bidding started so he offered up the $10,000. But things didn’t go as planned. No one else at the event bid on the painting so he ended up having the foot the bill.

Except that he didn’t exactly foot the bill, prosecutors say. They claim that Trump billed the Donald J. Trump Foundation for the unpopular painting. So, even he didn’t want to pay for it himself.

But the allegations of dodgy “charity” spending go further than an unwanted piece of art.

Prosecutors also say that the president used money from the foundation to pay off his debts and to fund his political campaign efforts. One event that’s under scrutiny is a “Trump for Vets” in Iowa that was held one week before their caucuses. In the lawsuit, New York Attorney General Yael Fuchs argues that the event, organized by the foundation and the campaign, garnered $5.6 million in tax-free donations. A reported $2.8 million of those donations went to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, while the rest went to other charitable organizations.

While this may seem innocuous on paper, the judge said that it would be illegal if that money was donated to charities to gain political mileage or “curry political favors.”

“I think it’s beyond dispute that these were improper self-dealing transactions,” Fuchs said about the foundation’s financial practices in this matter.

But Trump’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, insinuated that prosecutors were overblowing the situation.

“They’re making a mountain out of a molehill,” Futerfas said of the prosecutors’ claims, before adding that all of the money from the event went to charities.

“Candidates can go out and raise money for charity. That’s absolutely proper,” he added.

As CNN reports, another issue in this case is the question of whether a sitting president can be sued in state court for actions that he allegedly committed before he was sworn in. According to CNN, the New York appeals court is mulling this issue because there’s recent precedent for this as a separate defamation lawsuit filed by former Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos has been permitted to move forward.