Almost four months after saying he would give $1 million of his own money to veterans’ causes, Republican candidate Donald Trump moved to fulfill that pledge on Monday evening — promising the entire sum to a single charity.
Trump said in an interview Tuesday that he pledged the $1 million to the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation. The mogul notified the group’s chairman, retired FBI official James Kallstrom, in a phone call sometime Monday night, according to Kallstrom’s wife, Sue Kallstrom.
Trump’s call to the group came after The Washington Post and other media outlets had questioned whether Trump had actually fulfilled a vow he made in January at an Iowa fundraiser.
The timing of the gift also contradicts a statement from Trump’s campaign manager, who said last Friday that Trump had already given away his donation. “The money is fully spent,” Lewandowski said then. “Mr. Trump’s money is fully spent.”
In the interview, Trump said Lewandowski would not have been in a position to know that. “I don’t know that Corey would even know when I gave it out,” Trump said.
Trump had originally promised the $1 million gift on the night of the Jan. 28 fundraiser, which Trump said had raised a total of $6 million including his own donation. At the time, Trump described his donation in the past tense.
“Donald Trump — another great builder in New York, now a politician…Donald Trump gave $1 million,” Trump said.
The campaign and the candidate have been unclear for weeks about how much money they had actually distributed to veterans groups. As of last week, The Post found evidence of at least $3.1 million in donations that has been distributed as a result of the fundraiser. But the review found no evidence of personal gifts from Trump himself.
On Monday, before Trump made the donation, the Washington Post had been querying charities on social media, trying to find evidence that his $1 million had been received by any veterans’ groups.
Trump fulfilled his pledge hours later, it appears.
Why had it taken almost four months?
“You have a lot of vetting to do,” Trump said.
But the charity he chose — the Marine Corps – Law Enforcement Foundation — was already well-known to Trump. In fact, the group gave Trump a award at a New York City gala in 2015, and Trump’s personal charity has donated to the group in the past, most recently in March. “I did. In fact, I did,” Trump said when past donations were pointed out.
When asked if the Monday donation was in response to questions from the news media, Trump said: “You know, you’re a nasty guy. You’re really a nasty guy. I gave out millions of dollars that I had no obligation to do.”
At a town hall in Council Bluffs, Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr., present a big $100,000 check to Partners for Patriots, an organization dedicated to providing service dogs to disabled veterans. (Reuters)
In the same interview, Trump said the effort had raised about $5.5 million for veterans overall. Last week, Lewandowski said the figure was about $4.5 million and that it had fallen short of the promised $6 million because some unnamed big donors had backed out of their pledges.
The Post had not been able to find evidence of any major donors backing out. Trump said no big donors had reneged.
“For the most part, I think they all came through,” he said. “Some of them came through very late.”
Trump also said he had never actually promised that the fundraiser had raised $6 million. “I didn’t say six,” Trump said.
In a video of the event, Trump tells the crowd at the end, “We just cracked $6 million! Right? $6 million.”
When asked about that quote, Trump said, “Well, I don’t. I don’t have the notes. I don’t have the tape of it.”
Sue Kallstrom said she was not sure exactly when Trump’s call came in Monday, because she had gone to bed at 8 p.m.
“I guess he wants to take care of the vets,” Kallstrom said in a telephone interview. Among other good works, the foundation provides $30,000 educational grants to the children of the fallen. “The foundation is thrilled. Because the [money] is going to help a lot of people. Especially the children.”
Kallstrom said she did not know if the money had already been sent to the foundation, or if the check had, indeed, come from Trump personally. On the same evening that this gift was made, Trump criticized news reporting about the fundraiser on Twitter, calling it “bad publicity from the dishonest and disgusting media.”
(via: Washington Post)