Suggesting that his administration neither knows exactly where the $1 million hurricane relief donation Donald Trump promised this week is coming from, or where it’s going to, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unable to answer a key question about the donation today: Whether it would originate in Trump’s “personal money,” as previously reported, or from his charitable group, The Donald J. Trump Foundation.
The question’s not an academic one. For one thing, out of the $11 million the Foundation has donated over the last several years—to roughly 400 different charities, according to Forbes—only $2.8 million came from Trump himself. Meanwhile, The Washington Post has run a number of articles questioning the validity of some of the Foundation’s donations, suggesting a pattern in which Trump is more likely to say he’s about to donate money, rather than actually putting his cash where his mouth is. (Not that that’s necessarily what’s happening here, given how high-profile the damage Hurricane Harvey has wrought on the southern U.S. has been, and how bad the optics would be if Trump fudged the numbers on his gift.)
As numerous commentators have pointed out, there is one really good way the White House could bring transparency to these donations: Trump could follow in the footsteps of decades of presidents, and release his tax returns to the general public.