This sounds like business as usual in the world of Trump.
A new report details how Donald Trump Jr. and his sister, current White House adviser Ivanka Trump flirted with a felony fraud charge in 2012.
For two years, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office worked to build a criminal case against the two Trump siblings for misleading prospective buyers of units in another a failing hotel and condo project, Trump SoHo.
What’s more, emails proved they knew they were pulling a con on those prospective buyers.
In one email, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the emails, they worried that a reporter might be onto them. In yet another, Donald Jr. spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the email.
There was “no doubt” that the Trump children “approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales,” one person who saw the emails told us. “They knew it was wrong.”
Chips off the old block.
In 2010, when the Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the D.A.’s office opened an investigation of the siblings, the Trump Organization had hired several top New York criminal defense lawyers to represent Donald Jr. and Ivanka. These attorneys had met with prosecutors in the bureau several times. They conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims, but argued that the overstatements didn’t amount to criminal misconduct. Still, the case dragged on. In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz entered the case.
Kasowitz has no real experience in criminal cases. He’s primarily a civil attorney. He cut through the usual chain of command with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.
On May 16, 2012 Kasowitz met with Manhattan District Attorney Vance Cyrus Jr., along with Dan Alonso, the chief assistant district attorney, and Adam Kaufmann, the chief of the investigative division. No one from the Major Economic Crimes Bureau was present.
Kasowitz went on to deliver the same defense that other defense attorney’s had been making for months, without offering any new evidence.
Another oddity: Kasowitz made a hefty $25,000 contribution to Vance’s reelection campaign around that time.
Three months after that meeting, Vance decided there was nothing to the case to pursue and dropped the charges.
Wow. Imagine that.
Vance defended his decision. “I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed,” he told us. “I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.”
Just before the 2012 meeting, Vance’s campaign had returned Kasowitz’s $25,000 contribution, in keeping with what Vance describes as standard practice when a donor has a case before his office. Kasowitz “had no influence and his contributions had no influence whatsoever on my decision-making in the case,” Vance said.
But less than six months after the D.A.’s office dropped the case, Kasowitz made an even larger donation to Vance’s campaign, and helped raise more from others — eventually, a total of more than $50,000. After being asked about these donations as part of the reporting for this article — more than four years after the fact — Vance said he now plans to give back Kasowitz’s second contribution, too. “I don’t want the money to be a millstone around anybody’s neck, including the office’s,” he said.
For his part, Kasowitz denies there was any quid pro quo attached to his donations.
The criminal investigation surrounding Trump SoHo has been out there for a year, thanks to a report from the New York Times. All the other pertinent details, regarding the involvement of Trump Jr. and Ivanka, the email evidence, and Kasowitz’s contribution to Vance, however, are new.
This is another report that can be added to the mountain of curious and corrupt tales of Trump’s dealings.
And it looks like it’s a family affair.