Five years ago, Ivanka and Donald Jr. Trump seemed to be headed for a criminal indictment, a new report claims. The report — published via a collaboration between ProPublica, WNYC, and The New Yorker on Wednesday, Oct. 4 — details a timeline in which Ivanka Trump and Don Jr. were investigated for fraud by the Major Economic Crimes Bureau at the Manhattan district attorney's office for a two-year period starting in 2010. That investigation ended, however, months after the district attorney was paid a visit by a top donor, according to the report. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment from Ivanka Trump but did not hear back at publication time.
That donor was Marc Kasowitz, the longtime attorney of President Donald Trump. In 2012, Kasowitz had made a $25,000 donation to the reelection campaign of the district attorney, Cyrus Vance, whose office had been building a criminal case against Ivanka and Donald Jr. at the time.
In May 2012, while the Trump children had their own legal team already mounting a defense for the case, the elder Trump's attorney met with Vance, ProPublica reports. Three months after the meeting, the district attorney "overruled" his staff and told them to drop the case, the report says.
Vance told ProPublica,
I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed. I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.
The investigation involving Ivanka and Donald Jr. revolved around the business practices at Trump SoHo, a condo and hotel project in Manhattan. The Trump Organization's chief legal officer, Alan Garten, referred ProPublica to the company's civil litigation filings, which called complaints "a simple case of buyers’ remorse."
In April 2016, the New York Times reported that President Trump had reached a settlement for a lawsuit filed by buyers of units at Trump SoHo, who claim they had been victims of fraud at the hands of the Trump family and its business partners. According to the Times, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit had been helping the district attorney's office build its case against the Trumps, but ceased providing help once a settlement with the elder Trump was reached in 2011. Garten declined to comment to ProPublica on the settlement.
A year later, the district attorney case folded as well, after the meeting with Kasowitz. And while Vance says he returned the $25,000 donation from Kasowitz before their meeting took place, Kasowitz ended up donating again after the case against the younger Trumps was dropped. This time, Kasowitz contributed to, and helped raise, a total of over $50,000, ProPublica reports.
Kasowitz denied impropriety, with him quoted in the report as saying,
I donated to Cy Vance’s campaign because I was and remain extremely impressed by him as a person of impeccable integrity, as a brilliant lawyer and as a public servant with creative ideas and tremendous ability... I have never made a contribution to anyone’s campaign, including Cy Vance’s, as a ‘quid-pro-quo’ for anything.
The claims of fraud are related to Ivanka Trump and Donald Jr.'s alleged efforts to exaggerate the status of Trump SoHo in order to attract buyers. According to ProPublica's report, an email exchange including Ivanka and Donald Jr. allegedly showed that the two coordinated how they would use false information to attracted the buyers. The report cited four unnamed sources with knowledge of that email.
Adam Leitman Bailey, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that President Trump settled for Trump SoHo, told the Times,
They relied on these misrepresentations to their detriment.
The joint report between ProPublica, WNYC, and The New Yorker also mentioned separate emails in which the President Trump' two eldest children allegedly coordinated their plans to mislead potential buyers.
The news of Ivanka Trump's run-in with the law comes during the same week in which USA Today reports that she and husband Jared Kushner had re-routed personal email accounts to computers run by the Trump Organization. According to USA Today, the re-routing occurred after former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the special counsel in charge of the Department of Justice's Russia-related investigation, asked the White House to turn over a number documents.
If the reports about Ivanka Trump's -- and Donald Trump Jr.'s -- business practices are accurate, 2017 clearly won't be the first time they've attracted the attention of law enforcement after a series of suspicious emails.