Ivanka Trump Deposed in Inauguration Spending Investigation That She Slams as 'Vindictive'
Ivanka Trump sat for a deposition on Tuesday with prosecutors who are investigating the Trump administration’s unprecedented spending on his 2017 inauguration — and she soon attacked the "politically motivated" investigation on Twitter.
The Washington, D.C., attorney general’s office alleges that President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee made efforts to “grossly overpay” to rent out the space for his 2017 inauguration celebrations.
The New York Times reported in 2017 that Trump had raised more than $107 million for its events, doubling any other spending by previous president’s inaugural committees.
D.C. prosecutors filed a lawsuit in January alleging the president’s inauguration committee unnecessarily made more than $1 million in payments from the nonprofit committee to the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., where celebrations were held, "abusing nonprofit funds to enrich the Trump family."
Court filings submitted by D.C. prosecutors, first reported by CNN, show that D.C. attorneys began to subpoena documents from Ivanka, the president’s oldest daughter and a White House senior adviser, as well as First Lady Melania Trump and the chairman of the inauguration committee, Thomas Barrack Jr., in early October.
Prosecutors deposed Barrack in mid-November and sat down with Ivanka, 39, on Tuesday.
They also plan to hold a deposition with the first lady’s ex-friend and White House adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who recently released a scathing memoir about her longtime friendship with Mrs. Trump, as well as secret audio tapes of her private conversations with the first lady.
A key part of Wolkoff's book concerns what she describes as ongoing mysteries around the inaugural spending — and how, in her words, the White House ousted her in such a way to make her seem partly responsible. (She says she kept only a standard fee.)
According to the court filing, Wolkoff had warned Ivanka and the former inaugural committee deputy chairman, Rick Gates, that the committee’s payments to the Trump Hotel were inappropriately high.
But, “the [committee] and the Trump Hotel ignored these warnings and went ahead with the improper payments,” Karl Racine, the Washington, D.C., attorney general alleges in the court filing.
“Ms. Trump’s only involvement was connecting the parties and instructing the hotel to charge a ‘fair market rate,’ which the hotel did,” Alan Garten, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, told The Associated Press in a statement. (Garten did not respond to PEOPLE's request for comment; a spokeswoman for Ivanka referred comment to Garten.)
On Wednesday morning, Ivanka tweeted what she said was a screenshot of an email exchange showing instructions for the Trump hotel to charge a "fair market rate."
She suggested prosecutors were targeting the Trumps because of politics and that the investigation, and her five-hour deposition, was born out of "vindictiveness" and were a "waste of taxpayer dollars."
Wolkoff, a socialite and noted New York City event planner, became friends with the first lady after they met in 2003. After helping organize the inauguration events, Wolkoff joined the first lady in an advisory role at the White House. But she abruptly left the position in early 2018 amid reports about the high spending, including a Times report that Wolkoff’s firm was paid about $26 million from the president's inauguration committee.
“Was I fired? No,” she told the Times last year. “Did I personally receive $26 million or $1.6 million? No. Was I thrown under the bus? Yes.”
Wolkoff has said she disbursed the majority of that $26 million to subcontractors through her firm and was personally paid a $480,000 fee.
She will sit with investigators for her own deposition next week, according to the filing.
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