Donald Trump Jr. has been caught giving seemingly false testimony to investigators as part of a case brought by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) over apparent misuse of funds by the committer that handled Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities. Specifically, Racine “alleges that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel,” as a lawsuit that he has filed puts it. Troublingly, this apparent appalling overpayment directly financially benefited the Trumps, including the ex-president, who stayed financially entwined with his businesses throughout his entire time in office.
Donald Jr. testified in a video deposition as part of Racine’s case in February of this year, following his father’s exit from the White House. During his testimony, Trump Jr. was asked whether he knew Stephanie Winston Wolkoff — a former friend of ex-First Lady Melania Trump and a prominent figure involved with inauguration planning — and the former president’s son offered the following dubious statement in reply:
‘I know of her. I think I’ve met her, but I don’t know her. If she was in this room I’m not sure I would recognize her… I had no involvement with her.’
Actually, Trump Jr. was caught on camera at an event the night before his father’s inauguration “profusely praising” Winston Wolkoff (and fellow Trump ally Tom Barrack) by name, as Mother Jones put it. On January 17, Trump Jr. also directly spoke with Winston Wolkoff in an email thread where he touted “friends” of his who “would be able to put together a pretty impressive roster” for an inauguration event. Trump Jr.’s claim that he was not personally familiar with Winston Wolkoff is not credible.
During inauguration planning, Winston Wolkoff — who has been cooperating with Racine’s investigation — alerted Ivanka Trump and top Trump aide Rick Gates that “Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space,” Mother Jones explains. The committee went through with a pricey contract of over $1 million anyway.
Meanwhile, Trump Jr.’s apparent deception does not end there. He was also asked if he attended “an event at Union Station” (he did), and he replied that he didn’t know. At the event in question, Trump Jr. proclaimed — on camera — that the gathering would “go down in history,” so that “history” must be pretty short if Trump Jr. has already supposedly forgotten!
Meanwhile, Trump Jr. also faced questioning about whether he was in attendance at what Racine has described as “a private after-hours party for the Trump family at their Hotel” on the night of the inauguration, and Jr. was off-base regarding that event as well. After a questioner pointed out that there had been “testimony in the record that this event was for friends and family of the Trump children,” Jr. replied that he didn’t “actually recall it, you know, being dubbed that specifically.” In an email from Rick Gates to Ivanka Trump on January 11, Gates described the event as “more for you, Don and Eric.”
Separately, Trump Jr. is apparently the one who got the event going in the first place — after an initial apparent cancellation, Trump Jr.’s friend Tommy Hicks Jr. called the D.C. Trump Hotel and informed staff that he was “with Trump Jr.,” as Mother Jones explains, with Hicks Jr. adding that the event — which cost the inauguration committee over a quarter of a million dollars — would be happening after all.