Donald Trump Jr. deposed by DC attorney general as part of inaugural funds lawsuit
Donald Trump Jr. was deposed as part of the Washington, DC, attorney general's lawsuit alleging the misuse of Trump inaugural funds, according to a new court filing, the latest investigation in which the former President's children have surfaced.
In a court document dated Tuesday, DC Attorney General Karl Racine's office revealed the former President's son was deposed on February 11.
The filing states that Trump's deposition "raised further questions about the nature" of a hotel invoice Racine's office has been investigating. The attorney general's office alleges that the Trump Organization signed a contract with the Loews Madison hotel for $49,358.92 for a block of rooms during the 2017 inauguration, and that the invoice was later forwarded to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which then paid the bill, according to the filing.
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Trump Jr. and his brother Eric Trump, executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization who run the real estate company on a day-to-day basis, have increasingly surfaced in investigations as authorities' interest turns to properties the former President's sons are involved in.
In addition to the DC attorney general's lawsuit, prosecutors with the Manhattan district attorney's office are digging into the company's finances and asking questions about business units that both brothers are intimately involved with, including the Trump family compound known as Seven Springs in New York, as well as the Trump Tower and 40 Wall Street skyscrapers, according to a person familiar with the matter.
One person said prosecutors are asking "about everything under the sun about Donald, Ivanka, Don Jr and Eric, [and] Allen Weisselberg," the chief financial officer.
Eric Trump was deposed by investigators with the New York attorney general's office as part of a civil investigation into the Trump Organization. Ivanka Trump sat for a deposition with the Washington attorney general's office in December.
CNN has reached out to attorneys for the Trumps for comment.
Attorney general asks for more time
The DC attorney general's office has requested to have more time to obtain discovery materials and conduct depositions, according to the filing, adding that the office has been met with "repeated obstacles, including misleading testimony, a closed hotel and new information revealed after the deadline for issuing discovery requests passed on February 8."
The Loews Madison is closed due to the pandemic and has changed owners twice, according to the filing.
Ten witnesses have been deposed in the case, according to the filing, but only three were able to testify about the Trump Presidential Inaugural Committee's payment of the Loews Madison invoice, according to the filing. A spokesman for the committee declined to comment on the filing.
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"These witnesses gave inconsistent accounts of the purpose of the contract and why the PIC agreed to pay it, and none of the witnesses gave a complete or accurate account of the circumstances surrounding the invoice," the attorney general's office wrote in the filing.
Rick Gates, who was deputy chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee, testified that he'd received an email from a collection agency in July 2017 for the unpaid Loews Madison bill.
In his deposition, Gates said the hotel rooms were booked by a man named Gentry Beach, who was a friend and chief
of staff for Donald Trump, Jr. Gates said he was told by Beach the rooms were for people who had donated to the PIC and so "the hotel bill should be paid by PIC," according to Gates' deposition, adding that there was a "donor package" which included hotel rooms "if you donated at a certain level."
But Trump Jr. gave a different explanation for the names associated with rooms billed to the committee, saying they were "associated with the campaign or with the Trump family," according to the attorney general's office.
"For example, Mr. Trump testified that one individual was a friend from college, one was a Trump family driver, another was a New York socialite from the Real Housewives of New York who is also a Trump family friend," the filing states.
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Notes from the collection agency that were included in the court filings shows discussions between the debt collector, PIC and the Trump Organization discussing who would pay the bill.
"Rick Gates will provide payment, but needs the name changed," a note from the collection agency in July 2017 reads. "It just cannot say 'The Trump Organization.'"
Later, an entry from the collection agency asks if there is anything in writing from Gates promising he will pay.
"I hesitate as they all seem to be pointing fingers and making excuses as to why they won't pay it and this seems to be another ploy so the Trump Organization's name is not on it," the collection agency's note from July 2017 reads.
Gates testified that, in the end, the committee paid the invoice. CNN has reached out to Gates for comment.
Trump children under the microscope
The investigation into the Trump Organization by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office is sweeping in nature and touches many facets of the business. Questions about senior executives are in line with an investigation that is trying to understand how the Trump Organization operates, which includes Trump's children having significant roles.
Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump held senior positions at the company for years before their father became president and have been involved in some of the properties under scrutiny. Eric Trump is involved in the Seven Springs property, which CNN reported is under scrutiny by the New York attorney general and district attorney's office.
Donald Trump Jr. is involved in several of the Manhattan properties, including 40 Wall Street, that have also attracted the attention of investigators looking into whether lenders were misled about the value of certain assets. Eric Trump was deposed by investigators with the New York attorney general's office last fall as part of a civil investigation into the Trump Organization's finances in connection with the tax treatment of the Seven Springs estate. Manhattan prosecutors also subpoenaed information about consulting fees the Trump Organization paid to Ivanka Trump, according to people familiar with the inquiry, but there is no indication she is under scrutiny for receiving the payment.
Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump and Weisselberg -- the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization -- have not been accused of any wrongdoing. CNN has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment. The organization has previously said it complied with all laws.
The former President has called the district attorney's investigation a witch hunt. The district attorney's office could not immediately be reached for comment.
One insider turned informant is Michael Cohen, the fixer and personal attorney for the former President who spent 10 years inside the Trump Organization. Cohen alleged in congressional testimony that the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of certain assets when Trump was seeking loans and insurance and deflated them when it came time to pay taxes. The New York attorney general has credited Cohen's allegation with triggering her civil investigation. Cohen has been interviewed multiple times over the past two years by Manhattan prosecutors.
Cohen is set to meet with the district attorney's office for the sixth time on Friday, the person said. An interview last week lasted several hours. It was attended by Mark Pomerantz, a former federal prosecutor experienced in complex financial investigations who recently joined the district attorney's team, and Cy Vance, the district attorney, the person familiar with the matter said.
Cohen has pleaded guilty to nine criminal charges including lying to Congress, tax fraud and campaign finance charges for facilitating hush-money payments to two women who alleged extramarital affairs with Trump before he was president. Trump has denied the affairs.
This story has been updated with additional details.