Veterans hold Trump Tower protest after Donald Trump’s charity fundraising drive comes up short

·White House Correspondent
A group of veterans protesting in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on May 23, 2016. (Photo: Grace Brailsford-Cato)
A group of veterans protesting in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on May 23, 2016. (Photo: Grace Brailsford-Cato)

A group of veterans went to Donald Trump’s headquarters in midtown Manhattan on Monday to demand an apology and answers after the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s campaign admitted a veterans fundraiser did not raise as much money as he had initially claimed.

Alexander McCoy, who said he was a Marine Corps veteran who helped organize the protest, described Trump’s handling of the January fundraiser as “unacceptable.”

“We’re here as a group of veterans to reject Donald Trump,” McCoy said. “It is unacceptable that he made a commitment and failed to live up to it. He said he raised $6 million for veterans and claimed to have done so, and yet there has been no accountability for that money.”

He continued: “He has failed to show where a lot of that money went. And he failed to raise as much as he claimed to have raised. And it is unacceptable for Donald Trump to try to take advantage of the goodwill that American voters feel for our men and women in uniform to try and get votes while failing to live up to his own commitments.”

The protest came on the heels of a Washington Post report published Saturday, in which Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, said the fundraiser only brought in about $4.5 million. Trump held the Jan. 28 fundraiser instead of participating in a Fox News GOP debate that evening. At the time, he said the network was treating him unfairly. At the event, Trump announced that it had raised $6 million.

Lewandowski attributed the fundraising shortfall to donors who reneged on promises to participate.

“There were some individuals who he’d spoken to who were going to write large checks [and who], for whatever reason … didn’t do it,” Lewandowski told the Post.

Lewandowski declined to identify the donors who failed to participate. He also would not say exactly how much was raised or where the money went. The Post was only able to identify about $3.1 million in donations that went to veterans groups.

About a dozen protesters showed up to Trump Tower on Monday. McCoy described them as veterans who connected through “grassroots” organizing tools and
“social media” after hearing about the Post story. He said they were not part of an organization.

In addition to the fundraising shortfall, the protesters objected to the lack of information about where the money Trump raised for veterans ended up.

Another one of the organizers, Perry O’Brien, questioned Trump’s national security policies. O’Brien, who said he served with the Army in Afghanistan, argued that Trump’s plans would make the country more dangerous than it is now.

“He’s shown to be reckless, impulsive, and combines inexperience with bravado and confidence, which is a deadly combination, as many of us who have served
overseas know. It’s guys like that that get people killed on battlefields,” O’Brien said.

Yahoo News asked O’Brien whether the group would try to contact Trump or meet him inside the tower. He said that the protest was an attempt to communicate and that he hoped Trump would hear the message.

“We hope that he will apologize to veterans,” O’Brien said.