“Will the Justice Department Investigate the Trump Foundation?”


Election law experts from across the political spectrum largely agreed that the New York attorney general made a compelling case this week that President Trump’s campaign and his charitable foundation violated federal campaign finance laws during the 2016 election.

What they could not agree on, though, was whether any federal investigators will pick up the case.

The allegations were detailed in filings released Thursday by the attorney general, Barbara D. Underwood, as part of a lawsuit her office brought in state court accusing Mr. Trump and his three oldest children of using the Donald J. Trump Foundation for political and business purposes. That constituted a violation of New York State laws governing charities, as well as federal tax and election laws, the lawsuit charged.

But Ms. Underwood’s office lacks the authority to prosecute federal matters. So, when she filed the lawsuit, she simultaneously sent letters to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission asking those agencies to investigate the alleged violations of federal tax laws and campaign finance laws, respectively.

And, for good measure, on the letter to the F.E.C., she copied two top officials from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, which is charged with investigating and prosecuting criminal violations of election laws.


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