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Ivanka Trump Tried to Dodge Her Court-Appointed Financial Monitor

The Daily Beast 11/21/2022 Jose Pagliery
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty © Provided by The Daily Beast Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty

Ivanka Trump tried and failed last week to slink out of having a court-appointed monitor watch her financial moves, as New York prosecutors worry the Trump Organization and its executives may quietly try to relocate assets in anticipation of law enforcement action, according to a source familiar with those deliberations.

In private letters, Ivanka’s attorneys tried to exclude her—and only her—from a New York state judge’s order that laid out how the family company is going to be overseen in the coming months, this source said.

On Thursday, Justice Arthur F. Engoron took the boldest move yet against the former president’s company. He gave the Trump Organization two weeks to give retired federal judge Barbara S. Jones "a full and accurate description of the corporate structure,” empowering her to review "all financial disclosures to any persons or entities" by the company. The Trumps must also inform the judge 30 days in advance of shifting any assets, ensuring they cannot outrun the New York attorney general's $250 million lawsuit.

AG Letitia James’ three-year investigation exposed how the family-run company routinely inflated the value of the properties it owns to snag better bank loans or maximize tax-write offs for donated land. She filed a lawsuit in September against the company’s various entities, some of its top brass, former President Donald Trump, and the offspring he made executives there: Don Jr., Ivanka, and Eric.

Despite Ivanka Trump’s strong, last-minute plea to escape scrutiny, Engoron was unmoved. The final order does not give her preferential treatment or even name her, meaning she too must abide by the rules.

Ivanka was, notably, the only defendant in the lawsuit who tried to negotiate for a better deal on her own, according to the source who spoke to The Daily Beast.

The Trump Organization is currently on appeal trying to fight off Engoron’s appointment of a monitor, who has special powers to keep the firm in check. As a former federal judge, Jones has taken on special assignments in high-profile cases in need of an independent arbiter. In this case, she is specifically tasked with ensuring the Trump Organization no longer files fake documents to banks and insurance companies. However, she is not allowed to oversee “normal, day-to-day business operations,” according to Engoron’s order last week.

Engoron was prompted to take such a decisive step after Trump indicated he intends to dodge the AG as best he can. Prosecutors worry that might include shifting business assets out of the AG’s reach. In court on the day he made his decision, the judge pointed out the way Trump comically started a company called Trump Organization II on the same day James filed her quarter-billion dollar lawsuit–basing it in Delaware no less, the shell company capital of the country.

Ivanka Trump has not been mentioned in court in recent hearings, but she’s still a defendant in the lawsuit, given her close involvement in the company’s dealmaking over the years.

Ivanka’s attorney on this matter, Reid M. Figel in Washington, D.C., did not respond to questions on Friday.

Her failed bid here is the latest sign that Trump’s eldest daughter continues to try to distance herself from his shameful legacy, which included separating migrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, two presidential impeachments, and his unconstitutional attempt to remain in power after losing the 2020 election.

Last Tuesday, she refused to show up at her father’s long-awaited announcement that he is launching his 2024 presidential campaign.

“I love my father very much. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family,” Ivanka Trump said in a statement to Fox News. “I do not plan to be involved in politics.”

It didn’t start out this way. Ivanka Trump campaigned alongside her father in 2016, eventually falling under scrutiny over the way she used his 2017 inauguration to enrich the family company. She later raised all kinds of ethics red flags when he used his unchecked power to appoint her as a White House adviser. In that role, she violated federal rules by using a personal email account to communicate with Cabinet officials about government matters. Later, she was exposed over the way Secret Service agents tasked with protecting her and her husband, Jared Kushner, were prohibited from using bathrooms at the couple’s home, forcing them to spend $3,000 a month in taxpayer funds to rent a space nearby.

Ivanka has been engaged in a disappearing act ever since her father, as president, incited an attack on Congress in an attempt to halt the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in American history. Former President Trump’s political strategizing in the months after leaving the White House rarely, if ever, involved his daughter, sources previously told The Daily Beast. And while she did eventually submit to a “voluntary” interview with the Jan. 6 Committee, her testimony glossed over his unhinged allegations of election fraud and proved anything but damning against her father.

But that public relations strategy might not work in New York court. While she’s largely ghosted the political scene for the past two years, the AG’s lawsuit is squarely focused on holding her accountable for what she did a decade ago in her pivotal role as a company executive.

Much of those details are found in court filings. When she refused to sit down with investigators in January, the AG responded by publicly filing court papers closely documenting her exact role in exacerbating the Trump Organization’s long track record of lying about its properties’ market values.

The AG’s office identified her as “a key player in many of the transactions” under investigation, given how she was involved in cutting deals that relied on faked documents. Investigators said “she was responsible for securing loan terms” from Deutsche Bank for the company’s golf course in Doral, Florida, which involved turning over her father’s personal guarantee and statement of financial condition—documents that relied on a mountain of dubious property valuations.

Investigators also pointed out that she “played similar roles” in obtaining financing for the company’s projects in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Despite that history, Ivanka Trump’s attorneys are now leaning hard on the idea that she hasn’t officially been at the Trump Organization since she joined her father in the White House. While the company has asked New York’s state appellate court to freeze the use of a monitor to surveil the firm’s business practices, Ivanka Trump went on her own and made a separate argument: that she should be let off scot-free.

“Ms. Trump has had no involvement for more than five years… Ms. Trump has had no role as an officer, director, or employee of the Trump Organization or any of its affiliates since at least January 2017,” her lawyers said in an appeal filed Nov. 7 alongside the company’s efforts to block the appointment of a court monitor.

“NY AG never intended to impose an injunction against Ms. Trump,” her lawyers wrote, noting that Judge Engoron did not specifically name her in court when he was discussing the company’s actions on the day he ordered the monitor.

In court papers, the AG’s office did not address Ivanka’s arguments. Instead, prosecutors merely supported the use of a court monitor to continue as planned.

The AG’s office did not respond to a request for comment about Ivanka Trump’s last-minute intervention directly with Judge Engoron.

This fight is scheduled to be back in court on Tuesday, when state investigators and Trump Organization lawyers are expected to discuss the ongoing lawsuit, which could go to trial next year.

The Trump Organization is already dealing with a firestorm, as the company is simultaneously on trial for dodging taxes in Manhattan criminal court. Last week, the public discovered that its disgraced chief financial officer—who seemed to have been fired after being indicted on tax fraud—is actually still on the payroll. In that case, jurors have heard about how executives regularly paid themselves as “independent contractors” and diverted pay for personal expenses to reduce their taxable income.

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