In its papers, the Trump Foundation shrugged these allegations off, saying that Mr. Trump’s hotel paid $185 — ”plus interest” — to the foundation “as compensation for the fair rental value of the painting.” According to the papers, the Trump National Golf Course also reimbursed the foundation for the payment it made to Mr. Greenberg.
But the foundation was also used to curry political favor, the suit contends, and during the 2016 race, it became a virtual wing of Mr. Trump’s campaign. Emails show that Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, often directed its expenditures, even though charity groups are explicitly prohibited from political activities.
One of the chief accusations in the suit is that the Trump Foundation raised $2.8 million at a 2016 Iowa political fund-raiser for military veterans. At the time, Mr. Trump skipped a Republican debate to attend the event, which he then used to skewer his opponents and celebrate his own accomplishments.
The Trump Foundation claimed in its papers that Mr. Trump, like all political candidates, had a “right to raise money for charity and attend charity events.” Alan S. Futerfas, a lawyer for the foundation, said that even if Mr. Trump enhanced his political standing by attending the event, that was not illegal.
“Our common experience as Americans informs us that candidates routinely support and raise money for charitable causes,” the papers said. “Donations made at the suggestion of candidates are neither uncommon nor unlawful.”
In a statement on Friday morning, Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said it would continue “holding Trump and his associates accountable for their flagrant violations of New York law.”
“As our lawsuit detailed, the Trump Foundation functioned as a personal piggy bank to serve Trump’s business and political interests,” the statement said.