DC prosecutors set targets on Donald Trump Jr.’s group.
The District of Columbia attorney general will seek a judge’s permission on Monday to force three other people from the Trump family circle to testify, as investigators continue to investigate whether Donald Trump’s 2017 nomination committee is in pain spent over a million dollars and enriched his own business.
The AG’s office presented its plan in court documents earlier this month that had not previously been reported.
The local government case centers on how Trump’s children blurred the lines between the family business and what is supposed to be a nonprofit, which potentially helped milk the inaugural celebration by channeling the events to the Trump International Hotel in Washington where the committee may have overpaid for services.
“Everything they did was self-help. They asked a nonprofit to pay them for their own hotel at an inflated cost.“
– Stephanie Winston Wolkoff
“The world is about to learn how Trump’s inner circle – with Trump’s full knowledge – profited from the presidential nomination,” said Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who helped organize the inaugural events and is now a main witness for the government in this case.
“Everything they did was self-operate. They asked a nonprofit to pay them for their own hotel at an inflated cost, ”she told the Daily Beast.
Topping the list of witnesses that DC investigators now want to interview is Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. The GA’s office wants to question him under oath, as Weisselberg played a special role in reviewing the financial transactions of what is supposed to be the inaugural independent committee, something well outside his duties at the company. family.
The inaugural committee is supposed to be a short-lived, non-profit organization whose only job is to quickly organize the celebrations for a new president. But Trump’s nomination committee looped back to Weisselberg three months after the celebration in 2017 to conduct an audit of the committee’s finances, according to public court documents filed by the GA last month. Mother Jones was the first to reveal Weisselberg’s expanded role in the scandal.
The second person investigators now want to interview is Gentry Beach, a Texan financier who was Don Jr.’s college pal and sat on the association’s finance committee. Government attorneys identified Beach as someone who coordinated the Trump Org’s reservation of hotel rooms, a business expense of $ 50,000 that was later paid for by the nonprofit.
Investigators also want to impeach another person who made the deal: Kara Hanley, who is described in court documents as “a former executive assistant” at the family business. Hanley was listed as an employee of the Trump Organization on a “friends and family” guest list for the events, according to records obtained by The Daily Beast.
Weisselberg’s attorney, Mary Mulligan, declined to comment. Neither Beach nor Hanley responded to calls and texts.
As this case progressed, the window for government investigators to conduct these interviews closed. The three people reside more than 40 kilometers from the nation’s capital, which means they cannot be forced to appear in court and testify in a trial, according to DC superior court rules. This is why the local GA asks Judge José M. López to grant special authorization to proceed with these depositions.
“The district wishes to move forward as soon as possible with the testimony of the three individuals … so that any testimony can be kept for trial and be as accurate as possible,” government lawyers wrote in a recent filing.
DC investigators are closing in on Weisselberg just as the New York Attorney General and Manhattan District Attorney are doing the same, albeit for a separate criminal investigation into bank fraud and tax evasion.
However, this case is civil, not criminal, so DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine’s office is not seeking jail time for any of those involved. Instead, the GA wants to recover any badly spent money and hand it over to a nonprofit who will use it for the public good.
The GA office says the committee broke the law for two reasons: it wasted charitable funds and allowed Trump World insiders to personally benefit from the association.
“It was categorically inappropriate for PIC to spend nearly $ 300,000 in public charity funds on what was a private party for the Trump children and guests staying at the hotel owned by their families.“
In court documents, investigators explained how Trump’s Washington hotel initially reported a charge of $ 3.6 million for event space, food and drink over eight days. When Trump’s inner circle realized that the sky-high price could reek of corruption, Rick Gates, then Trump’s campaign manager, negotiated a lower price. But not much lower.
Investigators say the presidential nomination committee, referred to in court documents as “PIC,” has been repeatedly billed more money than it should have been. They cited an example in which the restaurant manager at the Trump Hotel tried to lower the price of an event on opening day, only to be ordered to raise it.
“It was categorically inappropriate for PIC to spend nearly $ 300,000 in public charity funds on what was a private party for the Trump children and guests staying at the hotel owned by their families,” the attorneys said. government in a file.
That Jan. 20, 2017 event included $ 175,000 in rental fees, plus $ 113,000 in food and drink for the event, according to court documents.
Investigators also say another event ended up being a private opening night party for Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump and hotel guests, which cost $ 288,367 in rent. and food.
“I didn’t understand why something was being done for children. It’s not a birthday party. This is for the United States of America which is sworn in to the most powerful executive in the world, ”said Winston Wolkoff, who said she had to awkwardly manage to block the creation of events that were clearly egotistical, like Ivanka’s “Sportsman’s Ball” and “The Lady’s Lunch”.
“Why does Ivanka bring together 100 influential women when she is not part of the Cabinet? ” she said. “These children were making events for themselves … by them, for them, with them … with other people’s money.”
If Judge López allows the additional depositions to continue, investigators plan to ask why the presidential nomination committee went out of its way to pay a debt to The Trump Organization. Investigators are examining how the Trump organization contracted the Madison Washington DC Hotel for a block of rooms for Trump’s family and friends during inauguration week, but in typical Trump fashion failed to pay some of the unused rooms. When the Madison Hotel sent the unpaid bill to a collection agency, Gates asked the collection agency to change the name on the bill to the groundbreaking committee, which ended up paying $ 49,358.
According to court documents, Gates told investigators the hotels were part of a giveaway given to donors who have already donated money for the groundbreaking effort. But investigators want to question Beach, the Dallas fund manager, about the hotel rooms. That was his name, after all, on the original contract papers.
According to court documents, the DC attorney general’s office has already subjected nearly a dozen people involved to questions in depositions. The best are Ivanka, Don Jr., Gates, and Inaugural Committee Chairman Thomas Barrack. Investigators also heard amicable sworn testimony from Groundbreaking Committee CEO Sara Armstrong, CFO Heather Martin and event organizer Ramsey Stewart.
Government lawyers also filed several employees: Trump Hotels CEO Eric Danziger, Trump International Hotel CEO Mickael Damelincourt, and hotel sales manager Patricia Tang.
The inaugural committee, the Trump Organization and the Trump International Hotel are trying to block the attorney general from talking about it at the next hearing on Monday.
The Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.