Ivanka Trump was involved in negotiations between inaugural committee, Trump hotel: report

Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpOn The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill On The Money: DOJ offers legal opinion backing refusal to release Trump tax returns | Centrist Democrats raise concerns over minimum wage | Trump bashes Powell ahead of crucial Fed meeting | Design leaks for Harriet Tubman bill Financial disclosure form shows Ivanka Trump earned M from DC Trump hotel MORE was involved in negotiations between the Trump Organization and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE's inaugural committee over the price of venue rentals at the Trump hotel in Washington, D.C., according to a new report.

Ivanka Trump, the president's eldest daughter and now a senior adviser in the White House, was serving as a senior executive within the Trump Organization when the company negotiated the price of the venue rentals, ProPublica and WNYC reported Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT

Citing emails and receipts they had obtained, the outlets reported that Ivanka Trump was directly involved in negotiating contracts for the accommodations roughly a month before Inauguration Day. The 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the hotel, according to the report.

Inaugural planners were reportedly concerned that the Trump Organization was overcharging the committee, with one sending an email flagging potential concerns about what would happen “when this is audited.”

ProPublica noted that if the Trump Organization through its D.C. hotel charged the inaugural committee more than the going rate for the venues, it could violate tax law.

The Hill has reached out to the Trump Organization for comment.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s ethics lawyer, played down Ivanka Trump's role in the negotiations.

“When contacted by someone working on the inauguration, Ms. Trump passed the inquiry on to a hotel official and said only that any resulting discussions should be at a ‘fair market rate,’” Mirijanian told ProPublica. “Ms. Trump was not involved in any additional discussions.”

ProPublica reported that Ivanka Trump connected Richard Gates, the then-deputy to the chairman of the inaugural committee, with the hotel’s managing director, Mickael Damelincourt.

Damelincourt responded by saying the rate for use of the president ballroom and meeting rooms was $175,000 per day and offered to charge the inaugural committee that amount – $700,000 for four days.

Inaugural organizers were uncomfortable with the price, according to emails obtained by organizer Stephanie Winston Wolkoff.

“These events are in PE’s [the president-elect’s] honor at his hotel and one of them is for family and close friends. Please take into consideration that when this is audited it will become public knowledge,” she wrote in an email, according to ProPublica, noting that the inaugural committee had obtained other locations free of charge.

“I understand that compared to the original pricing this is great but we should look at the whole context,” Wolkoff responded.

He then offered a going rate of $85,000 — less than half of what the Trump hotel originally suggested as the rate of the venue space.

A former Trump hotel staffer confirmed that the inaugural committee ended up paying the Trump hotel but it is not clear what price the negotiators settled on, ProPublica noted.

Gates reportedly also asked some vendors to take payments directly from donors instead of those people making donations to the inaugural committee, two sources told ProPublica.

The vendors, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they had signed confidential agreements, were reportedly concerned about the arrangement.

A spokeswoman for the inaugural committee said the finances were fully audited “internal and independently” and are accounted for, ProPublica reported.

“These were funds raised from private individuals and were then spent in accordance with the law and the expectations of the donors,” the spokeswoman told the outlet.

Still, some have raised questions about the dealings.

Marcus Owens, the former head of the division of the IRS that oversees nonprofits, told the outlet that the inaugural committee doing business with the Trump Organization “raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment.”

ProPublica and WNYC first reported news of the inaugural committee payments to the Trump Organization one day after The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors are probing how the committee spent funds.

Trump's inaugural committee raised nearly $107 million, more than double what Trump's predecessor raised for his first inaugural.

Officials in Manhattan are reportedly investigating whether the committee misspent funds or accepted donations in exchange for access to the Trump administration.