Donald Trump's campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was asked on CNN this morning to provide evidence to prove Trump's claim that he has given generously to charity.
In the process, Conway also seemed to be unaware of a key fact about Trump's personal charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Which is: The Trump Foundation's money doesn't actually come from Trump's own pocket.
"Donald Trump has been incredibly generous over the course of his life," Conway told CNN's Alisyn Camerota.
"With his own money?" Camerota asked.
"With his own money, and his foundation's money — which is his money," Conway replied.
From all available tax records, that is not true.
In fact, tax records show Trump has not given any money to his namesake foundation since 2008. Instead, Trump retooled his foundation to give away other people's money: Since 2008, Trump has taken in millions from donors and given it away under his foundation's name.
The Washington Post described the workings of the Trump Foundation in an article Sunday. Tax experts said they had rarely seen a charity like this, which defied the convention that wealthy people start private foundation to give their wealth away. Instead, the Trump Foundation allowed Trump to retain the appearance of generosity without giving away a dime of his own.
It's possible that Conway knows something that is not yet public, and has seen proof Trump has donated his own money to the Trump Foundation in 2015 or 2016. The foundation has not released information about those years, and its public tax filings only go up to 2014. The Post has asked repeatedly — including again Tuesday morning — for information about any such recent donations.
The Trump campaign has not responded to those questions.
And, on CNN, Conway did not offer any evidence of new donations. Instead, when Camerota challenged her — "No, the foundation's money [is] other people giving to the foundation" — Conway seemed to concede.
"Other people, but he — okay," she said. "But he's been incredibly generous."
Trump did recently give $25,000 to the Trump Foundation, but it wasn't a donation: It was a reimbursement. In 2013, the Trump Foundation made an improper $25,000 gift to a political group aligned with Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi (R). IRS rules prohibit tax-exempt charities from making such gifts. After The Post reported on that gift, Trump reimbursed the foundation, saying that the money should have come out of his pocket in the first place. He also paid a $2,500 penalty tax.
Conway's appearance on CNN was one of several recent attempts by the Trump campaign — including Trump's running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (Ind.) — to rebut criticism of Trump's past charitable giving. But no one in the Trump campaign has provided any new details about what they believe Trump gave. Or any new proof of a gift from his own pocket.
The Post has made its own effort to verify that Trump did give away millions of his own money, as he has claimed. But after contacting 326 charities, that search has turned up little. Between 2008 and this May, The Post identified just one gift that seemed to be from Trump's own pocket. It was in 2009, for less than $10,000.
This year, after Trump came under media scrutiny, he has made at least two personal gifts to charity: Trump gave $1 million to a veterans group in May, making good on a promise he'd made during a televised fundraiser four months earlier. And Trump gave $100,000 to a Louisiana church to help recovery efforts after Trump toured flood-ravaged areas near Baton Rouge. With those two donations, it appeared that Trump had given more money to charity in four months — under heavy media scrutiny — than he had in the previous 10 years combined.
On Monday, Trump's spokeswoman, Hope Hicks, said that The Post's article on the Trump Foundation was "not at all accurate," but did not cite any specific inaccuracies. Hicks did not respond to follow-up questions asking for those specifics.
In a written statement, Hicks also noted that Trump did not take a salary for his charitable work: "Mr. Trump serves the Foundation without compensation."
In the most recent IRS filings, Trump said he worked a half-hour per week on the Trump Foundation's business. For the nine years before that, Trump had told the IRS he worked "zero hours" per week.
In Tuesday's interview on CNN, Camerota pressed Conway about Trump's income tax returns, which the nominee has declined to release. Since Trump claims that his tax returns are under audit, Camerota asked: Would Trump release a letter from the IRS, proving that was so?
"Are you calling him a liar?" Conway asked.