Updated Dec 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ivanka Trump deposed in suit involving inaugural committee's alleged misuse of funds

Photo of Ivanka Trump speaking behind a podium at a campaign event for President Donald Trump
Ivanka Trump. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty

Ivanka Trump was deposed in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday as part of an investigation into the possible abuse of inaugural funds, according to a court filing.

Why it matters: The Washington, D.C. attorney general’s office sued the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) in January, alleging the committee misused over $1 million in payments to the Trump hotel in D.C. for event space during the president’s 2017 inauguration. Those funds “flowed directly to the Trump family,” the lawsuit claims.

What's new: Ivanka Trump confirmed that she was deposed in a tweet Thursday.

  • "This week I spent 5+ hours in a deposition with the Democrat D.C. AG's office where they questioned the rates changed by the Trump Hotel at the inauguration. 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," she wrote.
  • "This 'inquiry' is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars."

The big picture: Multiple people warned the Trump family about the possible impropriety of holding events at the president’s own hotel.

  • In December 2016, former inaugural committee deputy chair Rick Gates told Ivanka Trump that he was “a bit worried about the optics” of such transactions.
  • Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a contractor and event planner for the PIC, was also concerned that the committee was “vastly overpaying” for the hotel, per the filing.
  • The costs — $175,000 daily for four days of event space — were at least twice the market rate, according to Wolkoff.
  • Though she shared these concerns with Donald and Ivanka Trump, as well as Gates, they moved ahead with the payments.

Context: Ivanka Trump is one of many witnesses in this investigation.

  • Tom Barrack, chair of the inaugural committee, was questioned on Nov. 17, the court filing states.
  • Wolkoff is expected for a deposition next week.
  • The attorney general’s office has also subpoenaed records from Barrack, Ivanka Trump, Gates and the first lady.

What to watch: It's unclear what will come of this lawsuit, but it adds to ongoing criticism of the Trump White House's relationship with the president's business endeavors.

This post has been updated with a comment from Ivanka Trump.

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