This week, Senior Advisor and First Daughter Ivanka Trump was deposed as part of an investigation by the Washington, D.C. attorney general’s office into a misuse of inauguration funds by the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC). The attorney general’s office sued the Trump Organization and the PIC in January, alleging that the organisation violated its status as a nonprofit by misusing more than $1 million USD in funds and “grossly overpaying” the Trump Hotel for event space for the 2017 presidential inauguration.
On Tuesday, the eldest Trump daughter sat with investigators to try and explain yet another legal line the Trump administration has crossed. According to the lawsuit, the PIC — under the direction of Rick Gates, the former inaugural committee deputy chairman — paid $175,000 USD per day for four days to reserve space at the Trump Hotel. Wolkoff expressed discomfort with that fee, noting that it was nearly twice the market rate, and expressed that concern to both U.S. President Trump and Ivanka in an in-person meeting as well as in a followup email.
In addition to Ivanka, the attorney general's office has subpoenaed records from Tom Barrack, chairman of the inaugural committee, first lady Melania Trump, and Gates. Barrack was deposed November 17 and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the inauguration’s event planner will be deposed next week. Despite spending, according to her Twitter, 5+ hours in deposition, Ivanka may not be out of the woods just yet.
In her capacity as senior advisor, Ivanka has been in the trenches of the Trump operation for some time now. And although she was spared from similar inquiries in early 2019, Ivanka is no longer off the table when it comes to investigating the Trump administration's wrongdoings. Now the question remains: Are her crimes enough to land her in jail?
"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, general counsel for the Trump Organization, told CNN.
But this is not the first time Ivanka’s name has been mentioned in a lawsuit connected to the dealings of her father’s administration or companies. There are currently two New York state fraud investigations into President Trump and his businesses, which are investigating consulting fees that may have been paid to Ivanka, though she is not the focus of those investigations.
Ivanka’s involvement with negotiations for a failed Trump Tower in Moscow was probed as part of the Mueller investigation and in 2019, the FBI looked into her international business dealings. Last year, Ivanka and her brothers were ordered to receive “mandatory training” on the “duties of officers and directors of charities so that they cannot allow the illegal activity they oversaw at the Trump Foundation to take place again” as part of a settlement in a case that led to the closing of the president’s charity, which the New York attorney general called “little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality.”
Michael Cohen, the president’s former lawyer who pleaded guilty in 2018 in two separate criminal cases related to his work for the Trump campaign and organisation, told MSNBC last month that he believes Ivanka will go to jail before her father does. "I believe Trump does go to jail and if it's not Trump, he'll push one of the kids, probably Don, Jr. before Ivanka . . . definitely, Eric before Ivanka, but Ivanka will go to prison before Donald because that's just who he is," Cohen said.
Many people in Trump world believe Ivanka may have her own political ambitions after her father leaves office, perhaps eyeing a 2024 presidential run or perhaps even a Congressional seat, but Cohen thinks she would not open herself up to that kind of public scrutiny.
“There’s too much potential dirt that she doesn’t want released,” Cohen said, according to the Washington Post. “It’s easy to say, 'I‘m doing this, I’m doing that,’ but it’s different to put your entire life out there for the media to excoriate you.”
The president may know that his daughter has been involved in dealings that could get her in legal trouble, which would explain why there are reports that he is looking into preemptively pardoning his children before leaving office — including Ivanka. While Ivanka has not definitively been connected to any legal wrongdoing, she is closely connected to many other people in Trump's orbit who have been and it remains to be seen how long her luck will last.