'They broke the law': DC attorney general rebuts Ivanka Trump's attack over inauguration case

'They broke the law': DC attorney general rebuts Ivanka Trump's attack over inauguration case
Advisor Ivanka Trump and Administrator Linda McMahon | August 1, 2017 (Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks)

Ivanka Trump, along with the Trump Organization, has been under investigation for years for suspicions around the conduct of the president's 2017 inaugural committee and its funding. This week, she found herself being deposed for reportedly more than five hours by the D.C. attorney general as the investigation continues, leading her to lash out and accuse the investigators of being politically motivated.

But Karl Racine, the attorney general in question, hit back, saying it is clear the Trump family and the inaugural committee broke the law.

At the heart of the investigation is the question of whether the Trump family use inaugural funds for extensive self-dealing. Because the committee, which raised an unprecedented amount of funds, spent much of its money on Trump properties, it could have been illegally funneling money to the family by charging egregiously high amounts for Trump Organization services.

"This week I spent 5+ hours in a deposition with the Democrat D.C. AG's office where they questioned the rates charged by the Trump Hotel at the inauguration," Ivanka said in a post on Twitter on Thursday. "I shared with them an email from 4 years ago where I sent instructions to the hotel to charge 'a fair market rate' (see below) which the hotel then did. This 'inquiry' is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars."

In the email she shared, she said: "Just seeing this. why don't you call and negotiate. It should be a fair market rate."

However, despite her suggestion that this is some kind of vindication, it's hardly proof of her innocence. She may have put this down in writing to cover up the fact that she was actually not seeking a fair market rate. The suggestion that negotiations occur over the phone could even indicate that she wanted more substantive discussions about the funds to happen without a paper trail.

Racine disputed the idea that his investigation was a "waste."

"We filed suit after gathering evidence that the Presidential Inaugural Committee knowingly entered into a grossly overpriced contract with the Trump Hotel," he said in reply to Ivanka Trump's claims. "Any claim to the contrary is incorrect."

He added: "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."

He also shared an email from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former aide to Melania Trump who has since turned on the family and written a tell-all book. In the email, she expressed concern about some of the conduct surrounding inauguration spending.

"I wanted to follow up on our conversation and express my concern," she said in the email. "These are events in PE's honor at his hotel and one of them is with and for family and close friends. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge that locations were also gifted and costs underwritten to lower rental fees. I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context. In my opinion the max rental fee should be $85,000 per day."

And as CNN reported:

In December 2016 [Rick] Gates wrote to Ivanka Trump, the President's daughter, that he was "a bit worried about the optics of PIC [Presidential Inaugural Committee] paying Trump Hotel a high fee and the media making a big story out of it," according to the lawsuit.

Reports also indicate federal prosecutors have also scrutinized the inauguration's finances, but no federal charges have been brought in the case.

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