President Donald Trump’s daughter and senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump has lashed out at authorities after she became embroiled in an investigation of the Trump campaign for allegedly misusing donor funds.
The attorney general’s office in Washington DC has filed a lawsuit alleging the president’s 2017 inauguration committee made more than US$1 million in improper payments to the president’s local hotel during the week of his inauguration.
Trump’s inaugural committee spent more than $1 million to book a ballroom at the Trump International Hotel as part of a scheme to “grossly overpay” for party space and enrich the president’s own family in the process, the District of Columbia’s attorney general, Karl Racine, alleges.
Ms Trump hit out at investigators, accusing them of wasting tax payer money on a “vindictive” case.
“This week I spent five plus hours in a deposition with the Democrat D.C. Attorney-General’s office, where they questioned the rates charged by the Trump Hotel at the inauguration,” Ms Trump said on Twitter.
“I shared with them an email from four years ago where I sent instructions to the hotel to charge ‘a fair market rate’, which the hotel then did.
“This ‘inquiry’ is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness and waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Along with her online complaint, she shared the email she referenced.
In it she writes to Mickael Damelincourt, the managing director of the hotel: “why (sic) don’t you call and negotiate. It should be a fair market rate.”
Mr Racine has accused the committee of misusing non-profit funds and coordinating with the hotel’s management and members of the Trump family to arrange the events.
“District law requires non-profits to use their funds for their stated public purpose, not to benefit private individuals or companies,” Racine has said.
“In this case, we are seeking to recover the nonprofit funds that were improperly funnelled directly to the Trump family business.”
The committee raised an unprecedented US$107 million to host events celebrating Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, but its spending has drawn continued scrutiny.
Trump committee ‘broke the law’
Law professor and former US Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, Joyce Vance, said it’s not uncommon for civil probes like this to lead to criminal indictments.
“The civil case Ivanka was deposed in concerns whether a not-for-profit inappropriately spent its funds. But it’s not unheard of for information developed in a civil matter to be referred to prosecutors to determine whether a criminal violation occurred,” she wrote on Twitter.
Meanwhile, after Ms Trump took umbrage with the investigation, the DC attorney general hit back saying it was “very simple” to see that the Trump committee “broke the law”.
DC law requires nonprofits to use funds for stated public purposes, and to avoid unreasonable, wasteful expenses.
Our investigation revealed the Committee willfully used nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family.
It’s very simple: They broke the law. That’s why we sued.
— AG Karl A. Racine (@AGKarlRacine) December 3, 2020
As part of the suit, the attorneys have subpoenaed records from Ivanka Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Thomas Barrack Jr, a close friend of the president who chaired the inaugural committee, and others.
A four-part investigative series by The New York Times published in October revealed how the president throughout his four year tenure blurred the lines between public and private business and allegedly used the office of the president to funnel money to his properties and enrich his family.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.