He neglected to await repeal



Most ominous for Trump is the attorney general’s conclusion that “Mr. Trump’s wrongful use of the Foundation to benefit his Campaign was willful and knowing.” It is ironic, and highly damaging to Trump, that he made an issue in his campaign about the federal prohibition on tax-exempt involvement in campaigns. He committed that he would act, if elected, to repeal it. It appears that he and his campaign neglected to await repeal and simply declined to comply with it. In any event, his stated awareness of the law, together with his repeated execution of tax forms for the Foundation “in which he attested that the Foundation … did not carry out political activity,” puts him at severe risk of “willful and knowing” liability. As “foundation managers” under the law, Trump and his children are exposed to personal liability if they gave knowing and willful consent to the charity’s illegal expenditures. They could face similar consequences—that is, personal liability—in the event, however unlikely, that the FEC takes meaningful enforcement action.

He conspicuously announced his dislike of the law he was breaking and planning to continue to break. Sloppy.

What emerges from the New York complaint’s account is something that has become increasingly familiar. Trump does what he wishes, acting all too often on impulse and without regard to rules or norms, and those around him are expected to do as he says. The result in this instance was, from a legal perspective, disastrous. And that is putting the matter charitably.

Maybe, eventually, that will catch up with him and this nightmare will end.

Or maybe not.

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