Donald Trump has been ordered to pay $2m (£1.6m) to several charities after misusing his own charitable foundation to further his political interests.
A New York judge imposed the fine on Thursday after the US president acknowledged that he allowed his campaign staff to coordinate with the Trump Foundation in holding a fundraiser for veterans back in 2016.
Judge Saliann Scarpulla said that event was designed to further Mr Trump’s political campaign.
In a legal filing, Mr Trump also admitted that he had arranged for the Trump Foundation to pay $10,000 (£7,800) for a 6ft portrait of him – with $11,525 (£9,000) of the charity’s funds spent on sports memorabilia and champagne at a charity gala.
The Trump Foundation has since been dissolved – and the $2m settlement is going to be split evenly among eight organisations – including Citymeals on Wheels and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Mr Trump now faces restrictions on his involvement in other charitable organisations, and his three eldest children must undergo mandatory training on the duties of those who run non-profit organisations.
New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, described the settlement as a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain.
She added: No one is above the law – not a businessman, not a candidate for office, and not even the president of the United States.
Mr Trump has accused her of mischaracterising the settlement for political purposes.
He wrote on Twitter: I am the only person I know, perhaps the only person in history, who can give major money to charity ($19m), charge no expense, and be attacked by the political hacks in New York State.
No wonder why we are all leaving!
The settlement was an about-turn for the US president, who tweeted that he wouldn’t settle the case when it was filed in June 2018.
The judge gave Mr Trump credit for fulfilling his pledge to give $2.8m (£2.2m) that his charity raised to veterans’ organisations after the Iowa fundraiser.
Instead of fining him that amount, as the attorney general’s office wanted, the judge trimmed it to $2m and rejected a demand for punitive damages and interest.
The Trump Foundation said it was pleased by those decisions, claiming that the judge recognised that every penny ever raised by the Trump Foundation has gone to help those most in need.
Mr Trump also admitted in the agreements to directing that $100,000 (£78,035) in foundation money be used to settle legal claims over an 80ft flagpole he had built at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, instead of paying the expense out of his own pocket.
The foundation also paid $158,000 (£123,299) to resolve a lawsuit over a prize for a hole-in-one contest at a Trump-owned golf course, and $5,000 (£3,900) for adverts promoting Trump’s hotels in the programs for charitable events.
Mr Trump admitted these transactions were also improper.