The Corner

Politics & Policy

Trump and the Long-Delayed $1 Million Donation to Veterans

From the midweek edition of the Morning Jolt:

Donald Trump and the Long-Delayed $1 Million Donations to Veterans

On January 20, 2016, Donald Trump and his campaign issued the following statement.

(New York, NY) January 28th, 2016 – Today Donald J. Trump hosted an event to raise money for Veterans organizations in Des Moines, Iowa. The GOP frontrunner spoke to a record crowd at Drake University and was joined by special guests, including Senator Rick Santorum and Governor Mike Huckabee, as well as Veterans, throughout the night. Mr. Trump personally contributed $1 million dollars to the cause and raised an additional $5 million before the one-hour event concluded, totaling more than $6 million dollars. 

Mr. Trump stated, “Our Veterans have been treated like third-class citizens and it is my great honor to support them with this $1 million dollar contribution – they are truly incredible people. We are going to strengthen our military, take care of our Vets and Make America Great Again.” 

From those words, you might conclude that Trump had, you know, donated a million dollars to veterans’ charities that night. You would be wrong.

We now know Trump didn’t write a check that night. Or the next night. Or the night after that. No money went from him, personally, to veterans groups for the next five months, until after reporters started asking Trump about the donation in interviews.

More than a dozen big checks flowed out of New York last week, bound for veterans’ charities from Donald Trump. On Tuesday, he announced he had made good on his promise of last January to give the groups millions of dollars from a highly publicized fundraiser.

The announcement by the presumptive Republican presidential candidate came in the midst of a 40-minute rant against “dishonest” and “sleazy” reporters who have been pressing the issue.

The largest donation, a $1 million check dated May 24 and drawn from Donald J. Trump’s personal account, was addressed to a small Tuckahoe, N.Y., group that provides scholarships to the children of fallen Marines.

And no, the checks weren’t written in January and accidentally left sitting on a desk in the Trump organization somewhere.

The Associated Press spoke or left messages with each of the organizations Trump named. Of the 30 groups that responded by Tuesday, about half said they had received checks from Trump just last week.

Several said the checks were dated on or about May 24 — the date as Trump’s interview with the Post — and shipped out overnight.

Among them was the big check from Trump himself, written to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation. Trump’s campaign had previously told the newspaper that his promised $1 million personal donation had already been distributed.

When Trump said that night in Iowa, “I refuse to be called a politician! Donald Trump gave $1 million, okay?” what he really meant was, “someday, I might give one million, if I get asked about this boast enough by reporters.”

Anybody can promise they’re going to give a million dollars to veterans on some unspecified date in the future. You or I can do that. If you want to be credited for donating a million dollars to veterans, you have to actually donate one million to veterans.

Yes, there are a lot of legitimate conservative complaints about a partisan, unfair, sneering media that reflexively treats them with disdain. But asking a guy who claims to make huge donations to charity for details about his donations isn’t partisan or unfair or disdainful. It’s basic fact-checking. 

And here’s Sean Hannity last night: “Donald Trump is fighting back against liberal media attacks about how much money he has raised and donated to veterans charity groups.”

This is how spun we have become; now asking “which charities, and how much, and when?” is now considered a “liberal media attack” because it irks the candidate. Why should those questions be so vexing if the donations have been made? Because it implies Trump lied that night in Iowa? But the reporters were right! Trump hadn’t made the donation!

And yes, the second half of the Jolt reviews the many questions about Hillary Clinton’s charitable donations and just how non-profit and ethical the Clinton Foundation is. 

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