Fact Check: No, Trump Did Not Divert Money ‘Supposed to Go to Veterans’

Pete Buttigieg (Saul Loeb / Getty)
Saul Loeb / Getty

CLAIM: President Donald Trump had to “confess” to “illegally diverting charitable contributions that were supposed to go to veterans.”

VERDICT: False. The money did go to veterans.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg claimed at Wednesday night’s Democrat debate that President Donald Trump ought to have left office after having to “confess, in writing, in court, to illegally diverting charitable contributions that were supposed to go to veterans.”

Buttigieg misstated the finding of the court. The issue was that the money, which Trump raised in January 2016 at an event for veterans (in lieu of attending the Iowa caucuses debate), was distributed by the Trump campaign rather than the Trump Foundation.

As National Public Radio reported, “Justice Saliann Scarpulla says the funds did eventually reach charity organizations supporting veterans.” New York Attorney General Letitia James wanted the court to impose a higher penalty, but the judge refused because the money did, in the end, go to veterans’ charities.

New York Attorney General Attorney General Letitia James claimed in a press release that the president “admits to personally misusing funds at the Trump Foundation.”

President Trump disagreed: “Every penny of the $19 million raised by the Trump Foundation went to hundreds of great charitable causes with almost no expenses.

“The New York Attorney General is deliberately mischaracterizing this settlement for political purposes.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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