If New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood wants to bring criminal charges in her investigation into President Donald Trump’s charitable foundation, all she has to do is ask, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration said Wednesday.
Counsel to the Governor, Alphonso David, said in a statement directed at Underwood that the state is ready to provide a criminal referral to Underwood so she can pursue criminal charges beyond the lawsuit she filed last month.
“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state stands ready to provide the Attorney General with the appropriate criminal referral on this matter if and when she asks for it,” David said.
The state attorney general is not allowed to pursue criminal charges without an appropriate referral from law enforcement or a state agency.
Underwood’s office has not signaled publicly that she plans to pursue criminal charges, at least for now. A criminal action in the investigation could have an unintended consequence for Underwood’s civil proceeding. A judge could choose to pause the civil case until the criminal case is closed.
A spokeswoman for Underwood said her office would seek a criminal referral if they deem it necessary as their investigation continues.
“As our lawsuit against the Trump Foundation illustrates, we intend to hold the Foundation and its directors accountable for all violations of state law,” said Amy Spitalnick, the spokeswoman for Underwood. “We continue to evaluate the evidence to determine what additional actions may be warranted, and will seek a criminal referral from the appropriate state agency as necessary. We’ve already referred apparent violations of federal law to the IRS and FEC.”
Underwood’s lawsuit against the Trump Foundation is already an aggressive legal action. She is seeking $2.8 million in restitution from the foundation for colluding with the Trump campaign in 2016 on a nationally televised charitable fundraiser in Iowa just days before the Iowa caucuses.
The lawsuit also alleged Trump used the foundation to settle personal legal problems, such as a $100,000 payment to settle legal claims against the Mar-a-Lago resort, Trump’s private club in Florida.
The lawsuit seeks to dissolve the Trump Foundation and impose a 10-year ban on Trump serving as a director of a nonprofit in New York State.
Underwood and attorneys for the foundation are scheduled to check in with Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla Aug. 15 on what the foundation will do with the roughly $1 million it still has in the bank. They will also discuss Underwood’s request to bar Trump’s children from serving at another nonprofit or charitable organization in New York State for one year.
Alan Futerfas, of the Law Offices of Alan Futerfas in Manhattan, is representing Trump, his children, and the foundation, according to filings. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment on David’s statement.
Scarpulla is expected to decide on Oct. 11 whether to rule on the lawsuit based on documents filed or schedule a hearing.