President-elect Donald Trump continues to boast about his charitable giving, but those claims were cast into further doubt on Thursday after a damning Washington Post investigation into his philanthropy concluded that it is, for the most part, a "facade."
Despite claims of tens of millions of dollars donated to charitable causes, the months-long investigation by Post reporter David A. Fahrenthold was only able to verify "$7.8 million in charitable giving from Trump's own pocket since the early 1980s," and none since 2009.
Fahrenthold acknowledges that, because the president-elect has refused to release his tax records, it is impossible to know for certain. Nonetheless, the reporter contacted "420-plus charities with some connection to Trump," finding "only one personal gift from Trump between 2008 and the spring of this year"—a less than $10,000 donation in 2009 to the Police Athletic League of New York City.
Perhaps more worrisome, Fahrenthold notes that the largest recipient of Trump's charity "appears to be his own: the Donald J. Trump Foundation." The foundation, which he has said he will dissolve, is currently under investigation by the New York Attorney General over accusations that it fraudulently used funds to settle personal lawsuits.
The Post report continues:
Tax records show the Trump Foundation has received $5.5 million from Trump over its life, and nothing since 2008. It received $9.3 million from other people.
Another unusual feature: One of the foundation's most consistent causes was Trump himself.
New findings, for instance, show that the Trump Foundation’s largest-ever gift—$264,631—was used to renovate a fountain outside the windows of Trump’s Plaza Hotel.
Its smallest-ever gift, for $7, was paid to the Boy Scouts in 1989, at a time when it cost $7 to register a new Scout. Trump’s oldest son was 11 at the time. Trump did not respond to a question about whether the money was paid to register him.
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When asked about the investigation's findings, Trump's campaign spokesperson told the Post that Trump "has personally donated tens of millions of dollars...to charitable causes," though no evidence was provided.
Trump, Fahrenthold writes, "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."
"Instead," he continues, "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."
To wit, perhaps in anticipation of the damning revelations, the president-elect took to Twitter on Monday to trumpet his charitable giving:
I gave millions of dollars to DJT Foundation, raised or recieved millions more, ALL of which is given to charity, and media won't report!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2016
The DJT Foundation, unlike most foundations, never paid fees, rent, salaries or any expenses. 100% of money goes to wonderful charities!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 27, 2016