Since he first looked in to see whether or not Trump had followed through on a promise to send millions to veteran’s groups (not), David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post has been diligently working through the records of the Trump Foundation. In those months the story he’s turned up has been one of a fund used to buy whatever Trump wanted, bribe political officials to look the other way on Trump shenanigans, pay off Trump’s legal bills, and act as a slush fund to hide income all the while illegally accepting donations from across the country.
He’s also found that Trump not only isn’t very charitable, he lies about it.
In the fall of 1996, a charity called the Association to Benefit Children held a ribbon-cutting in Manhattan for a new nursery school serving children with AIDS. The bold-faced names took seats up front. … there was a seat saved for Steven Fisher, a developer who had given generously to build the nursery.
Then, all of a sudden, there was Donald Trump.
“Nobody knew he was coming,” said Abigail Disney, another donor sitting on the dais. “There’s this kind of ruckus at the door, and I don’t know what was going on, and in comes Donald Trump. [He] just gets up on the podium and sits down.”
Trump was not a major donor. He was not a donor, period. He’d never given a dollar to the nursery or the Association to Benefit Children, according to Gretchen Buchenholz, the charity’s executive director then and now.
Give nothing. Take credit. And in the process, Trump damaged the relationship between a charity and a donor who had actually deserved to be on the stage. It’s just a one incident … in a very long line. Donald Trump, philanthropist, is an absolutely shameful charade.
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For as long as he has been rich and famous, Donald Trump has also wanted people to believe he is generous. He spent years constructing an image as a philanthropist by appearing at charity events and by making very public — even nationally televised — promises to give his own money away.
It was, in large part, a facade. A months-long investigation by The Washington Post has not been able to verify many of Trump’s boasts about his philanthropy.
Trump’s bragging about giving to charities? Infinite. Trump’s follow through? Miniscule. Throughout this campaign and all through his public life, Trump has proclaimed that he gave “tens of millions” in charity. If that were true, it would mean he gave less than 1 percent of his supposed wealth.
It’s not true. He gave much, much less.
Instead, throughout his life in the spotlight, whether as a businessman, television star or presidential candidate, The Post found that Trump had sought credit for charity he had not given — or had claimed other people’s giving as his own.
Honestly, how anyone could lie about charity the way Trump has and still show his face in public is amazing. That the press doesn’t hound him and his surrogates about this at every meeting is, and there’s no other word, deplorable.
Trump promised to give away the proceeds of Trump University. He promised to donate the salary he earned from “The Apprentice.” He promised to give personal donations to the charities chosen by contestants on “Celebrity Apprentice.” He promised to donate $250,000 to a charity helping Israeli soldiers and veterans.
Together, those pledges would have increased Trump’s lifetime giving by millions of dollars. But The Post has been unable to verify that he followed through on any of them.
Fahrenthold’s tireless work in tracking down the truth about Trump has been called out as an exemplar of what the press should be. It is. But it’s also just that—what the press should be. It didn’t take magic, or an army of analysts. It took a single man, a notepad, and an interest in the truth.
Donald Trump’s record of personal giving is shameful. His public pretense of being “generous” is disgusting. The silence of most of the press is unforgivable.