By Alex Wong/Getty Images.
When the House Judiciary Committee sent document requests to 81 people and entities in Donald Trump’s orbit, his daughter Ivanka was conspicuously absent from the list. That omission may have been calculated: “Getting to family members I think is dangerous,” Gerry Connolly, a Democrat on the Committee, told Politico last week. “Only because it gets real personal, real fast. And it risks backfiring.” But it appears that Democratic investigators are sniffing around Ivanka nonetheless, though in a more circumspect and circuitous fashion.
The New York Times reports that 52 of the individuals and organizations targeted by the Judiciary Committee were specifically asked to surrender documents regarding Ivanka or her eponymous business ventures. They were also asked whether foreign governments had offered her gifts, money, loans, or capital investments in her companies—any of which might be ethically or legally problematic given her status as a senior adviser to the president. Richard W. Painter, the chief ethics officer under George W. Bush, suggested to the Times that Ivanka could be in violation of federal law if she accepted payments or gifts while in the White House. “They’re also going after other payments that aren’t emoluments clause violations that we ought to know about that could be creating financial conflicts of interest for her,” Painter added. “The idea here is to get an awful lot of information we would have had if there had been more detailed disclosures about the entities the Trump family controls.”
As much as Democrats are trying to tiptoe carefully around Trump’s golden child, the dragnet appears extensive:
Among those asked to produce documents that could show foreign-government involvement with Ms. Trump are George Nader, the Lebanese-American businessman who is cooperating with the special counsel’s inquiry; Erik Prince, the founder of the security contractor formerly known as Blackwater; Matthew Calamari, the former Trump bodyguard turned businessman; and Hope Hicks, a former White House communications director.
Others were Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager; Michael T. Flynn, the former national-security adviser, and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization.
The goal, according to the Times, is to determine “if she leveraged her role in government to profit for herself.” Although Ivanka technically stepped away from her position at the Trump Organization in order to work at the White House, neither she nor her husband, Jared Kushner, ever fully divested from their family businesses. (According to ethics disclosures, the couple had an income of between $82 million and $222 million in 2017.) Critics of the administration point to numerous red flags: Ivanka shuttered her fashion line in the summer of 2018, but the Chinese government recently approved numerous trademarks for her products, even as her father was publicly declaring a “trade war” with China. In another instance, she and Kushner supported an Opportunity Zone program that could net them millions in tax abatements. And of course, there remains the sticky question of Ivanka’s involvement in efforts to build a Trump Tower in downtown Moscow, which former Trump attorney Michael Cohen says was being negotiated with Russian officials throughout the 2016 campaign. (Ivanka, who previously served as executive vice president of development and acquisitions at the Trump Organization, has publicly stated that she knew “almost nothing” about the real-estate proposal.) Depending on what they uncover, House Democrats might soon have enough to justify calling Ivanka to testify—a possibility that, for all their caution, has not been ruled out.
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