The Trump Organization on Monday was dragged back into a District of Columbia court case that seeks to hold it accountable for its role in more than a million dollars of misspent funds during former President Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
The development marked the second whopping punch against the ex-president’s corporate empire on Valentine’s Day, following news that the company’s own accounting firm accused Trump of cooking up misleading financial statements.
The Trump Organization is now fighting a full-on multi-front war with prosecutors in Manhattan investigating tax fraud, in New York State investigating bank fraud, and in D.C. suing over alleged corrupt self-dealing with nonprofit money.
What caused the sudden shift in D.C.? A new judge who saw through a previous judge’s confounding error.
In November, D.C. Superior Court Judge José M. López appeared to ruin the local attorney general’s investigation when he decided the case could proceed—but dropped the Trump Organization from the lawsuit. His odd reasoning was that Donald Trump Jr.’s financier friend, Gentry Beach, had made a deal on behalf of the Trump Organization without the company’s permission and therefore the company wasn’t really at fault. In reality, Don Jr., Ivanka, and other staffers at the company’s New York office were on a ton of the paperwork.
In that jaw-dropping decision, López ignored D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine’s request to get to the bottom of Gentry’s role by subjecting him to sworn testimony and instead put the Trump Organization on an escape boat.
As The Daily Beast reported last month, the Trump kids’ close involvement and the assignment of a new judge on the case offered a glimmer of hope to reverse that.
Indeed, Judge Yvonne Williams on Monday issued a ruling that zeroed in on the previous judge’s Catch-22.
“It was erroneous for the court to rule against the district based on the district’s failure to depose… Mr. Beach… when the Court had [withheld] ruling on the district’s request to conduct that very discovery,” Williams wrote.
The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Our lawsuit is moving forward fully intact & full steam ahead. We sued the inaugural committee for misusing funds to enrich the Trump family. Now we’re going to trial,” Racine wrote on Twitter shortly after the ruling.
Racine seeks to have the Trump Hotel D.C. pay back nearly $1 million in funds that were spent on what local government investigators describe as self-dealing by the incoming president’s adult kids—Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump—to personally benefit themselves using money meant to celebrate the nation’s peaceful transfer of power. His idea is to set up a trust fund that would be diverted to another nonprofit actually engaging in charitable community work.
At the crux of that alleged scheme is an episode in which the Trump Organization reserved a block of rooms at the Loews Madison Hotel, only to stiff the hotel when more than a dozen expected guests didn’t show up. The company managed to dodge a credit collection agency and pushed off the $49,358 bill to the nonprofit presidential inaugural committee, the PIC.