Ivanka Trump was questioned for more than five hours this week by investigators from the D.C. attorney general’s office, which has accused President Trump’s Inaugural Committee of wasting donated money on an overpriced ballroom at the president’s D.C. hotel, Ivanka Trump said on Twitter Thursday.
The D.C. attorney general’s office revealed Wednesday in a court filing that it had taken Ivanka Trump’s deposition earlier in the week. In Trump’s tweet, she said investigators had “questioned the rates charged by the Trump International Hotel at the inauguration” in 2017.
Trump then posted an email she had sent to Trump hotel executives in December 2016, when she was still an executive at her father’s company. In that email, she told the executives, “Why dont you call and negotiate?” — presumably meaning with the Trump Inaugural Committee, though it is not specified.
“It should be a fair market rate,” she wrote.
Trump left her father’s company in January 2017 and is now a White House aide.
The president says he has given day-to-day control of his business to his eldest sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. But he has maintained ownership of his businesses — including his D.C. hotel — in the White House.
In early 2017, when Trump’s Inaugural Committee booked ballrooms at the downtown hotel, that meant the president was effectively on both sides of the transaction: His committee paid his hotel, using donors’ money.
In a lawsuit filed in January, D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) said that the Trump Inaugural Committee — legally a nonprofit, using donated money — and the Trump hotel took advantage of that arrangement. Racine said the Inaugural Committee spent more than $1 million on a ballroom at the hotel over several days. The rate was $175,000 per day, plus about $300,000 in charges for food and beverages.
Racine alleged that the committee barely used the ballroom and that the price it paid was too high.
“These charges were unreasonable and improperly served to enrich” Trump’s business, Racine’s office wrote in its lawsuit. Racine said that had violated the Inaugural Committee’s responsibility as a nonprofit, by wasting its funds.
In earlier filings, Racine’s office had released documents showing the Inaugural Committee’s event planner — a friend of Melania Trump’s — had raised concerns directly to the first lady and the president about the prices Trump’s hotel was charging. Racine’s office also released an email from a staffer on the Inaugural Committee, who wrote to Ivanka Trump saying that the Trump hotel “seems quite high compared to other properties.”
Racine’s office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Spokesmen for the Trump Organization and the Inaugural Committee did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. In the past, they have said that the charges to the Inaugural Committee were reasonable, given the hotel’s luxury and the high demand for hotel space during any inauguration.
In her tweet, Ivanka Trump called Racine’s suit “a politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars.”
In its filing Wednesday, Racine’s office said it had also taken depositions in recent weeks from the two top executives at Trump’s hotel in Washington, as well as Eric Danziger, the CEO of Trump’s hotel chain, and Thomas J. Barrack Jr., the chairman of the Inaugural Committee.
Jonathan O’Connell contributed to this report.