The Trump siblings, plus Eric and Tiffany (Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Lately it seems that not a week goes by without some revelation about the Trump family’s shadiness, whether it’s meeting with Russian officials about getting dirt on a political opponent or using private email accounts to correspond with White House staff. A new joint report from ProPublica, WNYC, and The New Yorker marries the two, delving into a fraud investigation against Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., otherwise known as the two of the three kids Donald Trump regularly acknowledges in a public forum.

According to the collaborative report, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office spent two years building a fraud case against Ivanka and Donald Jr., which began looking like it would result in criminal charges in spring 2012. In 2008, the elder Trump siblings knowingly gave false information to prospective buyers after units at Trump SoHo, a hotel-and-condo development, failed to sell at the desired rate. The Trumps fudged the numbers when meeting with potential buyers, telling them that “31 percent of the condos in the building had been purchased.” Trump Jr. bragged in an interview with The Real Deal that 55 percent of the units had been sold; soon thereafter, his sister Ivanka claimed that “60 percent had been snapped up.” “We’re in a very fortunate position,” Ivanka Trump said, “where we have enough sales and now we are strategically targeting certain buyers.”

Advertisement

[Arrested Development narrator voice]: They weren’t. ProPublica et. al. obtained a copy of a sworn affidavit filed in March 2010 with the New York attorney general’s office by a Trump partner that indicated two years after Trump’s daughter bragged about more than half of the units being sold, the real figure was 15.8 percent sold. Some buyers (rightly) felt cheated, and sued the Trump organization in 2010. That legal action was followed by an investigation by the Manhattan DA’s office, whose Major Economic Crimes Bureau determined that Ivanka and Trump Jr. might have violated the Martin Act, “a New York statute that bans any false statement in conjunction with the sale of a security or real estate.”

The investigation uncovered emails exchanged by Ivanka and Donald Jr. with buyers, in which, according to four people who have seen the correspondence, they “discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers.” Not only that, but “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.”

The Trumps’ criminal defense lawyers met with investigators and “conceded that their clients had made exaggerated claims,” but argued those actions didn’t constitute criminal misconduct. The DA’s office wasn’t dissuaded until Marc Kasowitz joined the Trumps’ legal team. Here’s where things get even shadier: Kasowitz met with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose 2012 reelection campaign he’d donated to, jumping up the investigative chain of command. Three months after the meeting, which no one else in his office attended, Vance told his staff to drop the case against the Trumps. When asked about his decision, the Manhattan DA says “I did not at the time believe beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime had been committed. I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call.”

Advertisement

Six months after the case was dropped, Kasowitz garnered donations to make a $50,000 contribution to Vance’s campaign, but they both deny this was a quid pro quo situation. You can wade further into the cesspool here.