Yesterday we learned that federal prosecutors are criminally investigating the money trail from Donald Trump’s inauguration. That report from the Wall Street Journal was focused primarily on where the donations came from and where they went. Now we’re learning that Ivanka Trump was at the center of that scandal – and it’s ugly.
ProPublica and WNYC have obtained internal emails which reveal that the Trump inaugural committee used donations to pay for hotel rooms at the Trump-owned hotel in Washington DC, a violation of the Emoluments Clause. But it gets worse. Much worse. The Trump hotel was wildly overcharging the Trump inaugural committee for the rooms. It got bad enough that a top Trump inauguration planner emailed Ivanka Trump to express concern about the price gouging ending up being audited.
So how bad is this? ProPublica thinks the Trump hotel, which is owned by the Trump Organization and thus owned by the Trump family, may have violated tax laws by charging the inauguration more than the going rate. Ivanka Trump was an official at the Trump Organization at the time, making her legally responsible for the matter. Her rep is claiming that Ivanka intervened and demanded that a fair rate be charged. But the emails obtained by ProPublica don’t offer any hint of this, and Ivanka’s people aren’t bothering to provide any evidence of it either.
This alone does not prove that Ivanka Trump committed a crime. But it does prove that someone in the Trump Organization was trying to commit a crime, and it proves that Ivanka Trump knew it was happening. Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg has been granted an immunity deal in the SDNY investigation. This suggests that whatever went on, prosecutors already know about it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report