Although President Donald Trump will soon be out of office, his legal travails are far from over. Now, in a new court filing, D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) has revealed an apparently illegal expense on the part of the committee that handled Trump’s 2017 inauguration, which was a non-profit organization. According to Racine, the Trump Organization incurred a cost of $49,358.92 for hotel rooms booked around the time of Trump’s inauguration, but the Trump family business did not pay what it owed. In July, when a collections agency got in touch with the Trump inauguration committee, then-committee official Rick Gates “directed the committee to pay” the charge, The Washington Post summarizes.
NEW: DC Attorney General alleges that Trump Org didn't pay a $49K hotel bill from the 2017 inauguration, and then — after the bill went to collection — Trump's nonprofit Inaugural Committee paid it instead. https://t.co/12aWpvIH6i
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) January 11, 2021
“[Non-profit] money can’t be used for the private benefit of the charity’s leaders — or their families or businesses,” the Post notes, but that’s exactly what seems to have taken place. In their new filing, Racine’s office said as follows:
‘The Trump Organization was liable for the invoiced charges. The [Inaugural Committee’s] payment of the invoice was unfair, unreasonable and unjustified and ultimately conferred improper private benefit to the Trump Organization… The [inaugural committee] knew, and continues to know, that the amounts it paid under the Loews Madison invoice for legal obligations incurred by the Trump Organization were for charges the [inaugural committee] had not approved or authorized, and for prohibited private purposes.’
The rooms for which the Trump inauguration committee ended up paying were at the Loews Madison Hotel, which is in D.C., and were originally booked by an assistant to Donald Trump Jr., whose friend — Gentry Beach — was apparently listed as the executor for the contract, despite Beach’s claim that he’s unfamiliar with the room arrangement. Asked by The Washington Post about why his name was on the room contract, Beach said that he “can only guess someone put it there as a placeholder.”
Racine’s office revealed the improper payment benefiting the Trump Organization by the Trump inauguration committee as part of their ongoing case over $1 million that the same committee spent on ballroom space at Trump’s D.C. hotel, which it hardly actually used. As part of that ongoing case, Racine’s office questioned Ivanka Trump for hours last year.