Trump Foundation lawsuit has "merit" on many levels, legal expert says

"No law" requiring migrant family separation

The New York State Attorney General's office filed a lawsuit Thursday accusing the Trump Foundation of misusing funds for personal benefit, legal payments and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. In the lawsuit, Democratic Attorney General Barbara Underwood said The Donald J. Trump Foundation "was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality." Underwood is suing to dissolve the organization and is seeking $2.8 million in restitution.

CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman told "CBS This Morning" the suit is "very serious" and has "merit on a number of levels," which include referral letters to both the IRS and the Federal Election Commission for further investigation.  

"They're saying that the Trump administration when Donald Trump had this charity – so you have to look back not when he's president, back when he's in the campaign – when he had this charity since 1987 that it basically, again, followed no law, that there are laws written that say how a charity must be run. There was no oversight," Klieman said.

In addition to the $2.8 million in restitution, the AG's lawsuit seeks to ban Mr. Trump from serving on a New York non-profit board for 10 years and one year for the foundation's other board members, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.

The AG's office alleges that at least five $100,000 grants were made to groups in Iowa in the days immediately before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, some of the most important events in the presidential election process. 

"Personal benefit, paying off legal obligations – which you cannot do – and ultimately also used for the campaign in Iowa to have payouts about the veterans' organizations just before the Iowa caucus," Klieman said.