Ivanka Trump Is Extremely Testy About Accusations the Trump Organization Ripped Off Inauguration Funds
Back in January, D.C. attorney general Karl Racine sued the Trump Organization, the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee, and the Trump International Hotel in Washington, accusing the groups of funneling large amounts of inauguration cash into the first family’s pockets via its hotel. Then the world went off the rails a bit—perhaps you’ve heard of this thing called COVID-19? And also a presidential election between Joe Biden and a nutcase?—and we didn’t hear about it for a while. But on Tuesday, first daughter and White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump was deposed for more than five hours as part of Racine‘s investigation, and for a supposedly innocent person, she sounds extremely testy about the whole thing!
Referring to the news that she’d spoken to Racine’s office, which claims the inaugural committee coordinated with the Trump family to make “exorbitant” and “unlawful” payments for event space at Trump International Hotel by approximately $1 million, money that came from charitable funds, Ivanka took to Twitter to let her followers know this whole thing is a politically motivated witch hunt:
Obviously, that email seemingly shows Ivanka telling the Trump hotel to charge a fair market rate, but while Harvard Law School over here apparently thinks it’s clear evidence she and her family did nothing wrong, it actually doesn’t prove anything. For one thing, as CNBC points out, Princess Purses fails to mention that she sent that email after Inaugural Committee Deputy Chairman Rick Gates warned her that he was concerned about the fact that the hotel had informed an inauguration staffer that the price to rent out banquet halls, with food and beverage minimums, was $3,600,000. In his email, Gates told Ivanka that the cost seemed “quite high” compared to what other non-Trump hotels were charging for that week and that he was “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.” (Gates, who is somehow the voice of reason here, later pleaded guilty to conspiracy and making false statements related to his work with former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort in Ukraine.)
For another, despite the selective email Ivanka chose to share, the inaugural committee still ended up overpaying the hotel!
An email from [Trump hotel general manager Mickael] Damelincourt to Gates on Dec. 16, 2016…quotes a revised price of $700,000, or $175,000 per day, for the entire ballroom space for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of inauguration week.
Later that same day, the woman running the inauguration preparation efforts, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was best friends with first lady Melania Trump before they had a falling out, wrote Gates to “express my concern” about the revised rates quoted by the Trump-owned hotel. “These are events in PE’s [president-elect’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is with and for family and close friends,” Winston Wolkoff wrote.
“Please take this into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge that the locations were also gifted and costs underwritten to lower rental fees,” Winston Wolkoff wrote. “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.”