The New York Attorney General’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation can move forward, a N.Y. State Supreme Court judge has ruled. However, Justice Saliann Scarpulla said President Donald Trump would be dropped from the case if a state appeals court, deciding an unrelated case, rules that a sitting president can’t be sued in state court.
Lawyers for President Trump petitioned the court to throw out a state lawsuit that alleges the president ignored the law when operating the charitable foundation, allegedly using it for personal and political gain.
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s lawsuit alleges that Trump used the nonprofit’s money to settle business disputes and help his political ambitions. Underwood seeks $2.8 million in restitution, shuttering the foundation and a 10-year prohibition on Trump running charities.
Scarpulla ruled there was no basis for finding that “animus and bias were the sole motivating factors” for the lawsuit.
“As we detailed in our petition earlier this year, the Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump’s business and political interests,” Underwood said via a statement. “There are rules that govern private foundations — and we intend to enforce them, no matter who runs the foundation.”
Alan Futerfas, attorney for the president, said via a statement: “The decision means only that the case goes forward. As we have maintained throughout, all of the money raised by the foundation went to charitable causes to assist those most in need.”
Former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ordered the foundation to stop fundraising in New York.
The case that could impact whether the president is dropped from the suit involves a defamation lawsuit filed by former television show “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos. The suit against the foundation could move ahead with the board members as defendants if the president is dropped.