President-elect Donald Trump said he is shuttering his controversial charitable foundation, a subject of intense criticism over how it collects and dispenses money.
“The foundation has done enormous good works over the years in contributing millions of dollars to countless worthy groups, including supporting veterans, law enforcement officers and children,” Trump said in a statement issued Christmas Eve. “However, to avoid even the appearance of any conflict with my role as president, I have decided to continue to pursue my strong interest in philanthropy in other ways.”
Trump did not provide a timeline for when the foundation will close. He said he has asked his lawyer to take actions necessary to shut it down.
The Donald J. Trump Foundation, heavily scrutinized during the 2016 presidential campaign, is under investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The probe was prompted in part by a series of reports in The Washington Post outlining its dealings, including instances in which Trump apparently used charity money to settle lawsuits involving his for-profit businesses.
The New York AG’s office said the foundation cannot be dissolved until its probe is completed.
Trump informed the Internal Revenue Service that he had given no money to the foundation from 2009 to 2014, according to the Post report. Donations came from other people, including World Wrestling Entertainment owners Vince and Linda McMahon, who contributed $5 million between 2007 and 2009.
Linda McMahon was recently nominated by Trump to head the Small Business Administration. Trump is a member of the WWE Hall of Fame.
The foundation also admitted it violated a “self-dealing” prohibition that bars nonprofits from using charity funds for themselves, families or businesses, according to an IRS tax filing in 2015.
The decision to dissolve the foundation comes amid concerns over how the billionaire president-elect and his family will avoid conflicts of interest after he is sworn in as the 45th president on Jan. 20, 2017.
Trump’s oldest son, Eric, this week said he was suspending his charitable foundation after questions arose about donors potentially gaining special access.