Ivanka Trump has so far remained unscathed by the legal and political scandals surrounding her father’s presidency, but that could change. ProPublica reports that Ivanka, acting as a senior executive with the Trump Organization, participated in negotiations surrounding fees the inauguration committee was charged to use the Trump hotel in Washington, fees that were allegedly much higher than the industry standard. This type of high spending could be a violation of tax law. However, according to ProPublica, it’s still unclear how much the inaugural committee paid the Trump Organization.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, federal investigators in New York are currently examining how Trump’s inauguration team spent the more than $100 million in donations that it received. There are suspicions that the money was given to the committee to pay for political favors which is against the law. The inaugural committee was registered as a non-profit, so if it redirected funds, that would violate the law as well.
Based on reporting from the Wall Street Journal, some of the evidence that triggered the launch of the investigation was found during the raid of Michael Cohen’s home and office in April. Michael Cohen is President Trump’s former lawyer who was recently sentenced to 36 months in prison for campaign finance violations and other crimes.
One key piece of evidence is a recording of a conversation between Cohen and a woman named Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was one of the key people involved in the planning of the inauguration. Wolkoff is also a former adviser to Melania Trump. The recording reportedly reveals that she expressed concern over the way the committee was spending its donations.
According to ProPublica, during the preparations for the event, Wolkoff emailed Ivanka about the Trump Organization’s high rental fees and voiced worries about the prospects of tax audits. A representative for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer denied the claim that she was directly involved in negotiations related to the Trump Organization and the inaugural committee.
“When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate.'” the spokesperson said. “Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”
But experts say the Trump Organization receiving money from the committee is already an ethical red flag, whether Ivanka was directly involved or not.
“The fact that the inaugural committee did business with the Trump Organization raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment,” said Marcus Owens, according to ProPublica. He’s the former head of the Non-Profit division at the Internal Revenue Service.
The fundraising effort for Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration doubled the money raised by Barack Obama’s committee in 2009, and ProPublica notes that many wondered why and how the funds were spent.
As CNN reports, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has tried to distance President Trump from news of the investigation.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,” Sanders said to the press on Thursday.
— The Hill (@thehill) December 14, 2018