The Trump Organization and Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee have agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a lawsuit claiming they intentionally overpaid for space at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in order to enrich the first family.
As part of the settlement, neither organization admitted wrongdoing. The New York Times reports:
But the payment amounted to nearly three-quarters of the $1.03 million that the lawsuit, filed by Attorney General Karl Racine of Washington, said had been paid to Mr. Trump’s hotel by the nonprofit inaugural committee to rent out space at what Mr. Racine asserted was an above-market rate and then use it in part to host a private reception for Mr. Trump’s children on the evening he was sworn in as president.
The settlement also came just days before the Trump family was slated to formally close on the sale of the Trump International Hotel, which will be converted to a Waldorf Astoria after Mr. Trump’s name is stripped from the landmark building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a few blocks from the White House.
In announcing the settlement, Racine said, “After he was elected, one of the first actions Donald Trump took was illegally using his own inauguration to enrich his family. We refused to let that corruption stand. With our lawsuit, we are now clawing back money that Trump’s own inaugural committee misused.”
“No one is above the law — not even a president,” Racine added.
CNN provides important context:
Racine sued in 2020 accusing the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee of coordinating with the former President’s family to “grossly overpay” for event space for inauguration events in January 2017 at the Trump International Hotel in DC. The inaugural committee wasted approximately $1 million of charitable funds in overpayment for the use of event space at the Trump Hotel in violation of District law, according to the lawsuit. They also alleged the committee paid nearly $50,000 to cover an outstanding debt for a block of rooms reserved by the Trump Organization at the Loews Madison hotel.
The Times adds:
Negotiations to settle the suit intensified earlier this year after a Superior Court judge in Washington set a trial date for September and rejected an effort by the Trump Organization to be removed from the lawsuit, making it likely that members of Mr. Trump’s family were going to be called in open court to testify.
Lee Blalack, a lawyer for the Trump inaugural committee, said “settlement was prudent simply to avoid the significant costs of litigating these baseless allegations through trial.”
Trump also released a statement on the settlement.
“As crime rates are soaring in our Nation’s Capital, it is necessary that the Attorney General focus on those issues rather than a further leg of the greatest Witch-Hunt in political history,” Trump said. “This was yet another example of weaponizing Law Enforcement against the Republican Party and, in particular, the former President of the United States. So bad for our Country!”
CNBC reports on some of Trump’s other legal woes:
The settlement comes more than two years after a judge in New York ordered Donald Trump to pay $2 million to settle a lawsuit by that state’s then attorney general alleging he used his Trump Foundation charity to benefit his 2016 campaign for the White House, as well as other unlawful activity. The foundation agreed to dissolve itself before that order.
Trump faces a pending criminal investigation in Georgia over allegations that he illegally interfered in the 2020 presidential election there, and a civil probe in New York, whose current attorney general, Letitia James, has said there is evidence the Trump Organization illegally manipulated the stated value of real estate assets for financial benefit.