The attorney general for the District of Columbia has said an investigation into how money was spent for President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration is not “politically motivated” and Ivanka Trump’s comments to the contrary were “highly misleading.”
Karl A. Racine, a Democrat, was responding to a claim made by the president’s daughter. She had posted on Twitter on Thursday about making a deposition to the attorney general’s office in relation to the probe.
His office sued the Presidential Inaugural Committee in January, alleging the nonprofit misspent more than $1 million raised by “grossly overpaying” the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“This week I spent 5+ hours in a deposition with the Democrat D.C. AG’s office where they questioned the rates charged at the Trump Hotel at the inauguration,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement.
She said she had shared a 2016 email with the attorney general’s office showing that she instructed the hotel to charge a “fair market rate.”
“This ‘inquiry’ is another politically motivated demonstration of vindictiveness & waste of taxpayer dollars,” Ivanka Trump said.
Racine spoke to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday about the case and he detailed some of the inaugural committee’s spending at the Trump Hotel.
“I think with all due respect to Ivanka Trump, what she put out today was highly misleading and at best only a part of the story,” Racine said. He said that despite Trump’s email about a market price, there was “clearly an attempt to pay a lot more” just days later, pointing to warnings by the committee’s event planner Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.
“With all due respect to Ivanka Trump, what she put out today was highly misleading and at best only a part of the story.” – Washington, D.C. Attorney General @AGKarlRacine pic.twitter.com/UADpmcFKl1
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) December 4, 2020
He told Maddow that the Trump Hotel charged the inaugural committee $175,000 for an event space, including a ballroom for half a day. Racine said another nonprofit, the President Inaugural Prayer Breakfast, paid just $5,000 for the same space on the same day.
“That doesn’t sound like market rate to me,” Racine said.
The lawsuit says that former inaugural committee deputy chair Rick Gates “personally managed” contacts with the Trump Hotel and he agreed to pay $175,000 per day so the committee could reserve space there for four days. Trump family members also agreed to this, the suit claims.
Earlier on Twitter, Racine noted that the inaugural committee was bound by the same rules as other nonprofits. His office also sued the Trump Organization and the Trump Hotel as part of the same case.
“We filed suit after gathering evidence that the Presidential Inaugural Committee knowingly entered into a grossly overpriced contract with the Trump Hotel,” Racine wrote. “Any claim to the contrary is incorrect.”
He shared an image of an email written by Wolkoff expressing concern about the planned payments to the Trump Hotel. Wolkoff also told the committee that the fees were at least twice the market rate, according to CNN.
“D.C. law requires nonprofits to use funds for stated public purposes, and to avoid unreasonable, wasteful expenses,” Racine said.
“Our investigation revealed the Committee willfully used nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family. It’s very simple: They broke the law. That’s why we sued.”
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