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Trump Gave Millions to Vets Groups After Media Report About Donations

At least 11 charities received money within the past week, following questions from reporters about the donations, NBC News confirmed.
Image: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally
Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Fresno on May 27, 2016 in Fresno, California. es)Spencer Platt / Getty Images

At least 11 veterans charities were paid by Donald Trump's foundation within the past week — donations that were made on the same day or after reporters began questioning him about where millions of dollars he says he fund-raised in January had gone.

During a news conference Tuesday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee released a list of 41 groups that he says were given $5.6 million raised as part of a philanthropic event in Iowa. Trump held the telethon-style fundraiser instead of attending a GOP debate back in late January because FOX News would not replace Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

NBC News confirmed with 27 of the charities that they received a combined $3.82 million from either the Trump Foundation or entities working on Trump's behalf.

Eleven said they were paid on or after May 24 — when Trump was interviewed by The Washington Post, which for weeks had asked the billionaire businessman to disclose who was benefiting.

The biggest recipient was the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, a small New York group that received a $1 million personal check from Trump last week, said Sue Boulhosa, the group's executive director.

She told NBC News that she first received a $100,000 check from the Trump Foundation a couple of months ago in the weeks following the fundraiser. Trump has a longstanding history with the group, which honored him at a gala last year, she said.

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But Trump previously spoke with the group's chairman and "it was alluded" that the Marine Corps foundation, which provides scholarships to the children of fallen Marines, should expect a new influx of cash from the fundraiser, Boulhosa said.

"That’s a significant donation. We have received it in the past from other donors, but it’s obviously very significant," she said.

Trump acknowledged the questionable timing of these latest donations during his news conference in which he also railed against the media giving him "bad publicity."

"The press should be ashamed of themselves," he said, claiming it was no one's business where his donations to veterans went.

Trump said it took time to disperse the funds because he had to check up on each of the charities.

"When you send checks for hundreds of thousands of dollars to people and to companies and to groups that you've never heard of, charitable organizations, you have to vet it," he said. "You send people out, you do a lot of work."

Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, had originally told The Washington Post that the event had raised about $4.5 million — less than the $6 million originally announced by Trump — because some who'd pledged had backed out. Lewandowski also said all the money had been given out.

Trump had claimed during the fundraiser that he'd raised $6 million through a combination of pledges from wealthy friends, the public and $1 million from himself.

But the campaign refused for months to disclose which charities had received the money, leading to questions about whether the money raised was less than he had said.

"It was very unfair that the press treated us so badly," Trump complained Tuesday.

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He suggested he had hoped to keep the donations private. But Trump wasn't shy about giving away poster-sized checks at campaign events in the weeks after the fundraiser.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks denied Tuesday that timing had anything to do with questions from the media.

"Mr. Trump's team worked very hard to complete this lengthy process prior to Memorial Day Weekend," she said.

The Associated Press and Erik Ortiz contributed.