Donald Trump on Tuesday ticked off the names of dozens of veterans’ charities to which he said he has directed a collective $5.6 million, in a response to scrutiny of his fundraising.
The presumptive Republican presidential candidate used a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower to list the contribution amounts to 42 groups while repeatedly criticizing the assembled media for bringing negative attention to what he said he intended as a positive act.
“I’m the only one in the world who can raise almost $6 million for the veterans, have uniform applause by the veterans’ groups, and end up being criticized by press,” said Trump.
The real estate magnate began collecting the money at a televised fundraiser he held in late January in lieu of participating in a Fox News GOP presidential debate.
Trump has been pressured to give a full accounting of what he had said totaled $6 million for the military community.
Trump acknowledged Tuesday that the process of vetting organizations was time-consuming and some donations had fallen through. Still, he projected the eventual total after processing would be more than $6 million.
“More money is coming through than didn’t come through,” he said.
The Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation received the most money from Trump’s efforts, $1.1 million, the candidate said, wielding a copy of a $1 million check he personally wrote.
The executive director of the Tuckahoe-based foundation, Sue Boulhosa, told Newsday she received the check on May 24 and said the funds would go toward scholarships and humanitarian aid. The charity’s vice chairman, Gary Schweikert, is affiliated with a Trump hotel.
A veteran who supports Trump, retired Marine Corps First Sgt. and New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro, told the media to stop using veterans as “political pawns.”
Outside the event, a small gathering of protesters accused Trump of using veterans as “props for hate” and said his inflammatory rhetoric endangers diplomatic relations as well as troops’ lives abroad.
“Veterans are not for sale,” said Perry O’Brien, 34, of Brooklyn, a former Army specialist and a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “And we’re not interested in making a deal when it comes to him demeaning veterans, when it comes to him demeaning POWs, when it comes to him demeaning Muslims, women, Latinos — many of whom, unlike Donald Trump, have served their country.”
The campaign of likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton condemned Trump’s release of fundraising details as a “stunt, only completed under immense pressure.”
It highlighted what it said was Trump’s record of “disrespect” for the country’s veterans, including deceiving those who served through Trump University and pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health care system toward privatization.
Florida-based retired Navy Rear Adm. Gene Kendall in a call to reporters sent up Tuesday by the Clinton campaign echoed that Trump had been cornered over his charity work.
“He’s a fraud and . . . we need to try to understand that he operates in support of what’s best for Donald Trump,” Kendall said.