A non-partisan legal advocacy group this week pointed to a mountain of evidence that President Donald Trump's business, the Trump Organization, has persistently engaged in the kind of illegal conduct that should give New York State cause to dissolve the corporation.
Free Speech For People said Thursday that it had asked the state's attorney general, Barbara Underwood, to revoke the company's corporate charter under the state's code of business laws, which states that a corporation that has "conducted or transacted its business in a persistently fraudulent or illegal manner" and abused its powers can be dissolved.
The Trump Organization has a long history of persistently violating the law and, since 2017, facilitating constitutional violations by funneling illegal emoluments to the president. We're asking @NewYorkStateAG to open proceedings to dissolve it. https://t.co/U0zD6DKgdH
— Ron Fein (@ronfein) August 31, 2018
The group made its appeal to Underwood days after Michael Cohen, a former executive vice president of the Trump Organization and Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations, admitting that he caused an unlawful corporate contribution and made at least two payments to help Trump win the 2016 presidential election—at Trump's direction.
"We now have a guilty plea by former Trump Organization, Inc. vice president, Michael Cohen, implicating the corporation in a criminal conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws. This is just the latest in a long list of allegations of illegality by the Trump Organization." —Jennifer Taub, Free Speech For People
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"The New York Business Corporation Law is quite clear," said Jennifer Taub, a board member at Free Speech For People, and co-counsel on the letter to the New York attorney general. "We now have a guilty plea by former Trump Organization, Inc. Vice President, Michael Cohen, implicating the corporation in a criminal conspiracy to violate federal campaign laws. This is just the latest in a long list of allegations of illegality by the Trump Organization. A corporate charter is a right, not a privilege. It's time to explore dissolution."
In addition to the crystal-clear evidence of illegal activity provided by Cohen's guilty plea, the watchdog argues, the organization should also be dissolved due to its alleged history of money laundering, evidenced by its cash purchases of $400 million in properties; its facilitation of illegal foreign contributions to the president, owing to the fact that Trump refused to divest from his corporation after taking office and now regularly hosts foreign dignitaries at his hotels; criminal fraud allegedly perpetrated by Ivanka and Donald Trump, Jr., when they misled prospective buyers of the company's properties; and a number of other offenses.
"Never in our nation's history, until now, has a business corporation been effectively merged with the presidency of the United States to enable the president and his family to use the presidency to enrich themselves," said Ben Clements, board chair of Free Speech For People and a former federal prosecutor. "The use of the Trump Organization to facilitate this criminality and corruption is contrary to New York law and it is incumbent on the attorney general to investigate and take appropriate action."
Free Speech For People also urged members of the public to sign a petition supporting the call for Underwood to fulfill her duty to the state of New York and the country by pursuing the dissolution of the Trump Organization.