Report: Ivanka Trump, Donald Jr. Nearly Charged With Fraud Until Their Father's Lawyer Met With DA

A ProPublica investigation finds that the meeting, sandwiched by substantial campaign donations to the DA, led to the case for misleading real estate buyers being dropped

Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as his son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump listen on October 26, 2016.
Then-Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as his son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump listen on October 26, 2016. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

U.S. President Donald Trump's two eldest children were nearly charged with felony fraud in 2012 until their father's lawyer met personally with the district attorney, a joint investigation by ProPublica, The New Yorker and WNYC has revealed.

Ivanka and Donald Jr.were suspected of having knowingly misled potential buyers of units in the Trump SoHo building with inflated figures. The report refers to emails that the prosecutors had in their possession that reveal the siblings' knowing use of fraudulent numbers to attract buyers to the development project, which was in desperate need of buyers at the time.

The Trump Soho hotel is seen in New York, December 6, 2016.
Seth Wenig/AP

"They knew it was wrong," the report quoted a person who had seen the emails as saying. The source added that there was "no doubt" that Ivanka and Donald Jr., then 24 and 28 years old respectively, "approved, knew of, agreed to, and intentionally inflated the numbers to make more sales."

Yet, after Marc Kasowitz, Donald Trump's personal attorney, met with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and asked him to drop the case, he did so three months later, overruling his own employees. ProPublica said that Kasowitz brought no new evidence to that meeting. Vance stood by his position five years later, telling ProPublica, "I had to make a call and I made the call, and I think I made the right call."

That year, Kasowitz had donated $25,000 to Vance's election campaign. However, the campaign returned it shortly before their meeting, which Vance said was standard practice when a donor had a case with the district attorney's office.

And yet, less than six months after Vance's office dropped the case, Kasowitz made a larger donation and helped raise more from others, reaching a total of $50,000. Vance did not return that amount, though he said that he would when asked about it during the journalists' investigation. He commented that he didn't "want the money to be a millstone around anybody's neck, including the office's."

Kasowitz himself told ProPublica in an email that his donations were independent of the district attorney's office's investigations into the Trump children. "I have never made a contribution to anyone's campaign, including Cy Vance's, as a 'quid-pro-quo' for anything," he wrote.