Donald Trump on Tuesday announced that he has donated $5.6 million he raised to 41 veterans groups , after questions emerged about whether he had given out any of the money from fundraiser he held in January while skipping a Republican presidential debate.
“Most of that money went out very early,” the presumptive GOP nominee said in a testy news conference.
Trump criticized the press for questioning whether he actually donated the money, saying he’s never received such bad publicity for doing a good thing.
“I wanted to keep it private,” he said. “If we could, I wanted to keep it private, because I don’t think it’s anybody’s business if I want to send money to the vets.”
A Democratic congressman who served in Iraq criticized Trump later Tuesday, saying the Manhattan businessman “consistently disrespects veterans” and only announced the donations after being caught in a lie.
“One of the first things you learn in the military is the importance of your word. You do what you say you’re going to do,” Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Seth Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran said on a Tuesday afternoon call. “We need a commander we can respect and trust from day one, not someone who will be pressured into doing the right thing months later.”
Also on the press call were three Democrats running for Congress in New York: District 2 candidate DuWayne Gregory, an Army veteran; District 21 candidate Mike Derrick, a retired Army colonel; and District 23 candidate John Plumb, a Naval Reserve commander.
“We simply cannot take a risk on Donald Trump,” he said.
Moulton also criticized Trump for his opposition to the GI bill and his proposal to privatize medical clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I’ll be the first to say that the VA needs drastic reform, but privatization is not the answer,” Moulton said, noting, “A majority of veterans surveyed are against privatizing the VA.”
Trump said Tuesday that he is not proposing privatization but that he would authorize veterans who encounter long wait times at VA centers to go to private doctors and get reimbursed by the government.
Trump Plays Veterans Trump Card
] The Democratic criticism came as Trump explained what happened to the money he raised at the January fundraiser. He said some of the $6 million in pledged donations did not come through but he is still expecting additional donations that will bring the total even higher.
Trump Pledges to Support Veterans at Rolling Thunder
] Trump recounted the list of veterans organizations that received portions of the donations. “I wasn’t too involved in picking the organizations,” he said.
He reserved much of his ire for the press, singling out reporters at the news conference for doubting him and called them “sleazy.”
Trump acknowledged that protesters were picketing outside the event at Trump Towers in New York City but said, “They’re sent there by Hillary Clinton, and they’re picketing that the money wasn’t sent. The money has all been sent.”
The news conference came two days after Trump spoke to veterans at the Lincoln Memorial for the Rolling Thunder event.
Trump Says He’d Consider Jeff Sessions for VP
] Asked about a possible third-party candidate emerging in the presidential race, he warned against it and said it would lead to victory for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. “And if that happens, this country will never, ever recover.”