A court on Thursday ordered United States President Donald Trump to pay $2 million (Rs 14.25 crore at current exchange rate) for misusing funds from his charitable foundation for his 2016 presidential campaign, Reuters reported. The state Supreme Court in Manhattan in the city of New York said the money would go to eight non-profit organisations that were party to the lawsuit against Trump and three of his children.

The Donald J Trump Foundation closed down in 2018 after prosecutors alleged that it was operating as a “little more than a chequebook” for Trump. Such charities, led by Trump and his children Donald Trump Junior, Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump, cannot engage in politics, the judge said. “I direct Mr Trump to pay the $2,000,000, which would have gone to the foundation if it were still in existence,” Judge Saliann Scarpulla ordered, according to BBC.

The court said the president “breached his fiduciary duty” by allowing funds raised for war veterans to be used for the Iowa primary polls. Trump’s children were asked to go through mandatory training “on the duties of officers and directors of charities”, said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

“The court’s decision, together with the settlements we negotiated, are a major victory in our efforts to protect charitable assets and hold accountable those who would abuse charities for personal gain,” James added.

While a spokesperson for the Trump Foundation said it was pleased the court rejected the attorney general’s request for punitive damages, Trump described it as a “frivolous request for statutory penalties, interest and other damages”.

The president on Friday alleged that James was “deliberately mischaracterising this settlement for political purposes”, and described the case as four years of “politically motivated harassment”. “...Now AG Letitia James, who does not acknowledge that we gave 100% of the funds to great charities, but refuse to investigate the Clinton Foundation with all of its problems,” Trump said in a statement. “All they found was incredibly effective philanthropy and some small technical violations, such as not keeping board minutes.”

The president said he would donate the money to Army Emergency Relief, Children’s Aid Society, City Meals-on-Wheels, Give an Hour, Martha’s Table, the United Negro College Fund, the United Way of the National Capital Area and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Last year, former Attorney General Barbara Underwood had filed the lawsuit after a 21-month inquiry during which “extensive unlawful political coordination” between the president’s campaign and the foundation was revealed. James said she had reached an agreement with the organisation and its directors to end the suit.

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