Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. reportedly were nearly charged with fraud in 2012 over claims that they misled prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo — but were saved when Trump’s top lawyer visited the Manhattan district attorney after making a substantial donation to his re-election campaign.
According to an in-depth report by ProPublica, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office built a criminal case against Ivanka and Donald Jr., with evidence including emails that show that pair were clear they were using inflated numbers about how well the units were selling as a way to attract buyers. In reality, they had barely filled 15 percent of the property.
According to the outlet, a series of emails show the Trumps discussing their own deception:
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.
One person who saw the emails told the outlet that there was no doubt Ivanka and Donald Jr. “approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales.”
Because of this, some buyers who concluded they had been cheated sued the Trump Organization in 2010, arguing that there was a vast difference in value between a unit in a building that was 15 percent sold (as was Trump SoHo) and one that was 60 percent sold — accusing the Trumps of a “consistent and concerted pattern of outright lies.”
When the D.A.’s office opened a probe in 2010, Trump Organization lawyers conceded they had made exaggerated claims but argued that it did not meet the threshold of criminal conduct. As the case dragged on, Donald Trump Sr.’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz got involved.
According to the report, Kasowitz donated $25,000 to the re-election campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. in 2012 and also asked Vance for the investigation to be dropped.
Three months after meeting with Kasowitz, Vance overruled his prosecutors and dropped the case. Vance’s campaign returned the donation before the meeting, but Kasowitz later made a larger donation and helped raise more from other donors — more than $50,000, according to the outlet.
“I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed,” Vance told ProPublica in a statement. “I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.” He now says he intends to give back the additional money from Kasowitz.
Kasowitz meanwhile denies that he boasted that he got the Trump children off. He stated that the case was “really dangerous.” He also claimed that his donation was unrelated to the case.
“I have never made a contribution to anyone’s campaign, including Cy Vance’s, as a ‘quid-pro-quo’ for anything,” he said in a statement.
According to ProPublica, the Trump SoHo went into foreclosure in 2014, and only 33 percent of units have been sold, while a creditor has taken over ownership.
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.