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The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet
By the atlantic  
OP 09/12/2016

As the old saying goes, those who give to glass foundations shouldn’t throw stones. Or something like that. In any case, after hitting Hillary Clinton hard over the Clinton Foundation, Donald Trump is under fresh scrutiny for his own foundation.

Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold has been reporting for months on the dearth of actual giving that Trump has done, despite repeated vows to donate to charity over the decades, but the story that’s broken through concerns a donation that Trump made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, in 2013. At the time, Bondi’s office was deciding whether or not to pursue a fraud case against Trump University and the Trump Institute. According to an aide, Bondi personally spoke with Trump, soliciting a donation to And Justice for All, a group backing her reelection. The Trump Foundation cut And Justice for All a $25,000 check, and four days later Bondi dropped the investigation.

There are two questions at play here. One is the appearance of a quid-pro-quo. While Trump and Bondi say there was none, this is also precisely the mode Trump has described in the past. “As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July 2015. “As a businessman, I need that.” He reprised those boasts early in the GOP primary, positioning himself as the only candidate honest enough to say how the game was played—and the only one rich enough to be exempt from it. Now, however, he’s singing a different tune.

Improper influence or not, the donation was illegal. The Trump Foundation, as a nonprofit, cannot give to political causes. Making things more complicated, the Trump Foundation recorded the incorrect recipient as the gift. Eventually, it had to pay a $2,500 penalty to the IRS. Even then, it has not recouped the money, as is required.

That’s not the end of the story. The liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has filed a complaint with the IRS, accusing the Trump Foundation of violating another rule by using charity to benefit a group’s leader. Meanwhile, The Huffington Post reports that Trump’s help for Bondi didn’t stop with that $25,000 donation. His family gave more to her, and he also hosted a fundraiser at his tony Mar-A-Lago in Florida—charging less than market rate, and less than he charged his own campaign to host events there.

The 2016 presidential election could be the most scandal-plagued match-up since James Blaine’s allegedly corrupt business deals squared off against Grover Cleveland’s alleged illegitimate child in 1884. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is poised to win the nomination, bringing with her a train-car’s worth of baggage. But the Republican front-runner is at least as saddled with controversy as Clinton is—and while many of the Clinton cases involve suspicion and shadowy links, many of Trump’s are fully documented in court cases and legal proceedings.

The breadth of Trump’s controversies is truly yuge, ranging from allegations of mafia ties to unscrupulous business dealings, and from racial discrimination to alleged marital rape. The stretch over more than four decades, from the mid-1970s to the present day. To catalogue the full sweep of allegations would require thousands of words and lump together the trivial with the truly scandalous. Including business deals that have simply failed, without any hint of impropriety, would require thousands more. This is a snapshot of some of the most interesting and largest of those scandals.

The Beauty Pageant Scandals  

Where and when: Various, 1992-present

The dirt: The Boston Globe’s Matt Viser reports on the mess of the American Dream pageant in 1992. After years of attending beauty pageants—Trump seems to have always enjoyed the company of beautiful, scantily clad women—he decided he wanted to get in on the business himself, meeting with George Houraney and Jill Harth, a couple that ran the American Dream pageant. It was an ill-fated effort. Harth and Houraney alleged that Trump started making passes at her almost immediately. On one occasion, Trump allegedly asked them to bring some models to a party. Harth alleges Trump groped her at the party. In a limo afterwards, another model said she heard him say that “all women are bimbos” and most “gold diggers.” Trump reportedly joined another model in bed, uninvited, late at night. On other occasions, he forced Harth into bedrooms and made passes at her, she said. But after the contest, Trump broke off dealings. Harth sued Trump, alleging sexual misbehavior, while the couple together sued him for breach of contract. In the suit, they also alleged that Trump had kept black women out of the pageant.

The upshot: The couple settled with Trump for an unannounced sum, and Harth dropped her suit. Trump has denied all the allegations. But it wasn’t Trump’s last turn in the pageant business. A few years later, he bought the Miss Universe pageant, which also includes Miss USA and Miss Teen USA. “Honestly, when I bought [Miss Universe], the bathing suits got smaller and the heels got higher and the ratings went up,” he boasted to Vanity Fair later. In 2012, he won a $5 million suit against a former contestant who claimed the contest was rigged. By 2015, he operated Miss Universe as a joint venture with NBC, but after he slurred Mexican immigrants at his campaign launch, Univision and NBC both announced they would not air the pageant. Trump bought out NBC’s share, then promptly sold the company. He sued Univision but settled in February. The terms were undisclosed.

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