Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr 144070 2 IDA5369...
Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr

In 2012, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump were teetering on the brink of felony fraud charges. The Major Economic Crimes Bureau of the New York District Attorney’s office spent two years investigating the case before Trump’s attorney, one of the DA’s largest donors, intervened and the case—poof—went away. From ProPublica:

For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell. Despite the best efforts of the siblings’ defense team, the case had not gone away. An indictment seemed like a real possibility. The evidence included emails from the Trumps making clear that they were aware they were using inflated figures about how well the condos were selling to lure buyers.

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.

Frustrated that Don Jr. and Ivanka’s legal team hadn’t been able to get the case dropped, Donald Trump dispatched his own personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, to bypass the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, in favor of direct talks with District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. Kasowitz, who’d donated $25,000 that same year to Vance, must’ve worked some magic in that meeting because despite two years of investigation and a trail of emails pointing to fraud, Vance overruled his staff and dropped the case. Kasowitz bragged about making it disappear:

Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.)

Vance did return the $25,000 donation before he met with Kasowitz, but:

Just before the 2012 meeting, Vance’s campaign had returned Kasowitz’s $25,000 contribution, in keeping with what Vance describes as standard practice when a donor has a case before his office. Kasowitz “had no influence and his contributions had no influence whatsoever on my decision-making in the case,” Vance said.

But less than six months after the D.A.’s office dropped the case, Kasowitz made an even larger donation to Vance’s campaign, and helped raise more from others — eventually, a total of more than $50,000. After being asked about these donations as part of the reporting for this article — more than four years after the fact — Vance said he now plans to give back Kasowitz’s second contribution, too. “I don’t want the money to be a millstone around anybody’s neck, including the office’s,” he said.

Both parties deny the contributions had anything to do with the case. Read more about the case at ProPublica or listen to audio version here:

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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