BY JOSH ISRAEL
Back in January, Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump boycotted a debate moderated by sometimes–rival Megyn Kelly of Fox News, opting to host a stunt fundraising event for veterans’ charities instead. He boasted at the time that the event raised $5 million and that he had personally donated $1 million from his self-proclaimed $8.7 billion fortune — for a $6 million total haul.
Days after the event, Trump lauded himself for an event that could “not have been better.” “I did something great for veterans,” he claimed, adding, “You know, as they say when something works out, it was a ten. And I didn’t know it was going to be a ten.”
But last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that the promised beneficiaries had apparently received just a “fraction of the promised money.” Trump deflected these criticisms, telling CBS News “I don’t have the final numbers, but the money we raised for veterans has been mostly distributed. We’re looking for some other really worthy places to distribute the final [funds] … But for the most part, it has been distributed. We raised millions of dollars.”
On Friday, Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski revealed that the fundraiser actually netted less than initial claims. Lewandowski told CNN that he did not “know the exact number,” but explained that the $6 million figure reflected only pledged donations — not the amount actually collected. The Washington Post quoted Lewandowski as putting the total raised at just $4.5 million, but he later told CNN that that number was incorrect.
As Trump has already contributed $43 million to his campaign, it is noteworthy that he did not opt to make up the difference, given his stated concern that “illegal immigrants are treated better in many cases than our vets.”
The admission came one day before Armed Forces Day, the day designated for “citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.”