Ivanka Trump deposed by DC attorney general in inauguration investigation

The probe is looking into the spending of the Trump inaugural committee.

December 2, 2020, 10:38 PM

Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter and White House senior adviser, sat for a deposition with the Washington, D.C., Attorney General's Office Tuesday as part of an ongoing investigation into the Trump 2017 Inaugural Committee.

The probe, which has been led by the D.C. attorney general, has been looking into the spending of the Trump inaugural committee and specific spending at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The probe has looked at whether President Donald Trump has violated the emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from profiting from foreign governments.

Ivanka Trump's deposition was disclosed in a filing by the D.C. attorney general, Karl Racine, that was posted Wednesday. She is among a list of others who have sat for a deposition with the attorney general, including Trump's longtime friend and chair of his inauguration, Tom Barrack.

"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, an attorney for the Trump Organization, told ABC News in a statement Wednesday evening. The Trump Organization owns the Washington, D.C., hotel.

In their filing, the D.C. Attorney General's Office said thus far the investigation showed a significant difference in charges given to a group hosting a prayer breakfast for a rate of $5,000, and the inauguration committee, which later in the day paid $175,000 for the same venue.

"The PIC [Presidential Inaugural Committee] thus paid 35 times more for rental of event space on Inauguration Day at the Trump Hotel than a comparable nonprofit organization paid for renting a substantial portion of the same event space earlier that day," the filing explained.

Ivanka Trump speaks at a campaign event on Nov. 2, 2020, while her father, President Donald Trump, watches in Kenosha, Wis.
Morry Gash/AP

According to the filings, the D.C. attorney general's investigation began, in part, after claims were leveled by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a one-time adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inauguration events and who wrote a book, "Melania and Me," about her relationship with the first lady earlier this year.

"I'm working with three different prosecutors, and it's taken over my life," Winston Wolkoff told ABC News in a September interview, referring to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District of New York and local attorneys general in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.

The inaugural committee, a private tax-exempt organization, raised nearly $107 million in donations and spent $104 million of that on the event, the most ever for an inauguration -- twice as much as President Barack Obama's first. The money not spent -- totaling about $3 million -- was reportedly donated to charity.

As Winston Wolkoff recalled, she was blindsided when, more than a year after the inauguration, The New York Times reported that Trump's inaugural committee had paid her event-planning firm more than $26 million, sparking headlines around the world suggesting she had personally pocketed all or much of that money.

Those unfair claims made her into "the cover girl for the inauguration shenanigans," she wrote in her book.

Winston Wolkoff declined to provide ABC News with materials, including documents, to support any of the claims outlined in her book or interview.

Without responding to Winston Wolkoff's specific allegations, Trump's inaugural committee told ABC News in a statement in September that it "disagrees with (her) description of this historic event," adding that it "will decline to engage in her effort to sell books." A White House spokesman similarly accused Winston Wolkoff of trying to "profit off lies and mischaracterizations meant to harm the First Family."

A source close to the Trump Organization said they "look forward to taking Winston Wolkoff's deposition" in response to the D.C. inquiry.

Winston Wolkoff did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News Wednesday evening.

The D.C. investigation is not a federal probe but rather led by the local attorney general's office and would not be covered by a presidential pardon, should any charges be brought. News of Ivanka Trump's deposition was first reported by CNN.

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