Wash. Post’s David Fahrenthold: Trump Appears To Have Lied To The IRS About Illegal Charity Self-Dealing

Fahrenthold: I Found Examples In Trump Foundation's Tax Filings “That Appear To Tax Experts To Be Some Pretty Clear Examples Of Self-Dealing”

From the September 21 edition of CNN’s At This Hour with Berman and Bolduan:

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JOHN BERMAN (HOST): So is Donald Trump dabbling in the art of the self-deal? The Washington Post is reporting the Trump Foundation has paid more than a quarter million dollars from the charitable foundation to settle lawsuits against Donald Trump's businesses. This report raises a lot of questions about possible violations of a tax law known as self-dealing. Now the Trump campaign is just going after the man reporting it.

KATE BOLDUAN (HOST): So let's talk to the man. David Fahrenthold from The Washington Post, he is joining us once again. David, thank you so much for jumping on. The statement coming out from the Trump campaign, let's go through some of what they put out yesterday. One of the things that they point out is, this is exactly what they say. “In typical Washington Post fashion they've gotten their facts wrong,” also saying “the Post’s reporting is peppered with inaccuracies and omissions.” Have they told you what facts they think you got wrong?

DAVID FAHRENTHOLD: No. So before that story came out I sent them really detailed questions about basically everything in that story, and I got literally no response at all, not even an acknowledgment they had received the email. And then afterward, they put out that statement. I haven't actually seen any, and I don't think any other reporter has either, any specific things they believe are wrong. If they have them, I'm glad to see them. I'm glad to talk about them. But I haven't actually seen one example.

BERMAN: They haven't told you what the facts are, though apparently they are all wrong. Let me read you another part of their statement here. “There was not, and could not be, any intent or motive for the Trump Foundation to make improper payments. All contributions are reported to the IRS, and all foundation donations are publicly disclosed.” So does that clear things up, David?

FAHRENTHOLD: It doesn't. It's true that the Trump Foundation files tax filings to the IRS, but the tax filings every year ask them, did you make an illegal self-dealing contribution this year, did Donald Trump use the money in his foundation to help his business or to help himself. They always check no and then send that return to the IRS. What I found going through is some examples that appear to tax experts to be some pretty clear examples of self-dealing that he should have told the IRS about. And so they did make the tax filings, but if Donald Trump engaged in self-dealing, he didn't tell the IRS about it.

BOLDUAN: And David, when asked kind of about this report last night, Donald Trump's campaign manager was asked if Donald Trump did anything illegal, and she said no, but she also pointed to one instance in particular in the report, calling it this is classic Donald Trump but in this way, that he wanted to raise the American flag as high as possible over his property in Florida, I think a lot of Americans would applaud that. She gets to the point that there could be people who take a look at this and that they say look, he's giving money from a charity to a charity. At least in this instance, the fight is over how high a flag should fly and how big a flag should be.

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, I think that sort of confuses the legal issue here. In this case, Trump puts up an American flag on a giant flag pole that the town of Palm Beach decides was too high, it's against their town code. They fine him. He has $120,000 in unpaid fines against his club. Now, you can think the town was right or wrong, but those are the fines that his club was facing, his for-profit business. So then Trump makes a legal settlement with the town that he agrees to. This was enforced on him, he agrees to it, and the town says we’ll waive the $120,000 of unpaid fines but you, Donald Trump, your club, must pay $100,000 to this specific veterans charity. And what Trump does is basically, he doesn't give any money from his own pocket or from the club, as he had agreed to, but rather takes the money out of the Donald J. Trump Foundation. Even though the money is going from one charity to another, what the charity is doing there is basically paying the bill agreed to by Donald Trump's business. It’s like a gift from Trump's charity to Trump's business of $100,000. That's the part that breaks the law.

BERMAN: That is what self-dealing is. A phrase that is just now being introduced to a lot of people, a phrase that could be a part of this campaign.


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