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Donald Trump to dissolve charity foundation amid New York investigation

President-elect Donald Trump said he will dissolve his charitable foundation amid efforts to eliminate any conflicts of interest before he takes office next month.

The revelation comes as the New York attorney general's office investigates the foundation following media reports that foundation spending went to benefit Mr Trump's campaign.

Mr Trump said he has directed his counsel to take the necessary steps to implement the dissolution of the Donald J Trump Foundation, saying that it operated "at essentially no cost for decades, with 100% of the money going to charity".

He said: "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."

"I will be devoting so much time and energy to the presidency and solving the many problems facing our country and the world. I don't want to allow good work to be associated with a possible conflict of interest."

Me Trump said he will pursue philanthropic efforts in other ways, but did not elaborated on how he would do so.

The Democratic National Committee criticised Mr Trump for what it called "a wilted fig leaf to cover up his remaining conflicts of interest and his pitiful record of charitable giving".

Party spokesman Eric Walker also took a jab at the president-elect over his controversial business holdings: "Shuttering a charity is no substitute for divesting from his for-profit business and putting the assets in a blind trust - the only way to guarantee separation between the Trump administration and the Trump business."

A 2015 tax return posted on the non-profit monitoring website GuideStar shows the Donald J Trump Foundation acknowledged that it used money or assets in violation of Internal Revenue Service regulations - not only during 2015, but in previous years.

Those regulations prohibit self-dealing by the charity. That is broadly defined as using its money or assets to benefit Mr Trump, his family, his companies or substantial contributors to the foundation.

The tax filing does not provide details on the violations. Whether Mr Trump benefited from the foundation's spending has been the subject of an investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for Mr Schneiderman's office, said on Saturday that the foundation "cannot legally dissolve" until the investigation is complete.

The charitable foundation was ordered to immediately stop fundraising in New York just weeks before the presidential election, with Mr Schneiderman's office saying it was not registered to do so.

Mr Trump was highly critical of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's family charity, the Clinton Foundation, saying without evidence that she ran "a vast criminal enterprise run out of the State Department" while she was secretary of state.

At the final presidential debate, he challenged Clinton to "give back the money" that came from donors in countries that fail to respect various human rights.

Mr Trump's announcement to dissolve his own foundation came a day after the president-elect used Twitter to declare it a "ridiculous shame" that his son Eric will have to stop soliciting funds for his charitable foundation, the Eric Trump Foundation, because of a conflict of interest.

"My wonderful son, Eric, will no longer be allowed to raise money for children with cancer because of a possible conflict of interest with my presidency," Mr Trump tweeted. "He loves these kids, has raised millions of dollars for them, and now must stop. Wrong answer!"

Trump was in his South Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago, on Saturday, his retreat for most holidays. He spent the week meeting advisers and interviewing candidates for a handful of Cabinet positions that remain unfilled.

AP

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