February 7, 2023

The FBI just launched an investigation into a business deal Ivanka Trump made this year

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It is surprising that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has not moved to talk with first daughter Ivanka Trump, at least so far, considering her closeness to her father, her presence at events that are under scrutiny and his interest in her husband Jared Kushner’s twisted business affairs.


Now, however, there is a report from CNN that FBI counterintelligence officials are looking into at least one of Ivanka Trump’s international business deals. 

A former U.S. official told CNN that the FBI is interested in the negotiations and financing for the $360 million Trump International Hotel and Tower in Vancouver, Canada, which includes a 147 room hotel, 217 luxury residences and a spa branded with Ivanka’s name.

Ivanka, like her husband, has not yet been able to secure a permanent security clearance, at least in part because the FBI is still checking out her role in the family’s complex business holdings around the world. It is unclear if this is related to that or not.

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A lot of the luxury units are being sold to foreigners, which could also be of interest to the FBI, as part of its job is to make sure there are no compromising secret deals that could give a foreign power leverage over Ivanka or her family in the future.

While it is just a licensing deal for the Trump Organization, the family company, Ivanka by several accounts was central to negotiating the deal with the developer, Joo Kim Tiah, who is a member of one of the wealthiest families in Malaysia, and operates the families Canadian-based holdings through the Holborn Group.

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Tiah has said that he negotiated the deal largely with Ivanka and worked with her on many of the details, so she was very involved in the hotel, which opened shortly after her father was inaugurated in early 2017.

According to a financial disclosure form filed last June by President Trump, the Vancouver property produced $5 million in royalties and $21,500 in management fees in a year.

The FBI has been scrutinizing the negotiations, in which Ivanka was a key player, and the financing of the project, a U.S. official and a former official told CNN.

Holborn is backed, according to CNN, by Tony Tiah Thee Kian, chairman of TA Enterprises, which controls several businesses

“The elder Tiah has a checkered business history,” reports CNN, “including securities law violations and false statements to the Kuala Lumpur stock exchange, according to Malaysia’s Securities Exchange.”

There is a lot of speculation about why Ivanka has not been a target of Mueller, at least in terms of what is known by the public. Considering the scrutiny her husband is getting, it doesn’t seem to make sense.

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“Why is he not interviewing Ivanka?” wonders Michael Zeldin, a CNN legal analyst and former prosecutor who worked for Muller at the Justice Department. “The answer is, beats me?”

Ivanka hasn’t been called to testify by either of the two Congressional committees probing the 2016 Russia connection to the election, while her husband and others around her have been called.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, would like to speak with Ivanka, but so far the Republican majority on the committee has blocked that from happening. 

Ivanka is said to talk to her father several times a day and was present with him when he was involved in things that are now being probed, like when he wrote a fake news press release about Donald Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with the Russians.

With so many Trump intimates leaving the administration – Hope Hicks most recently – and others being forced out or frozen out, Ivanka begins to stand out as someone who is still there and who knows and has seen a lot of things. 

Ivanka may have gotten a pass so far but it would be surprising if one of the investigative nets did not drag her into the spiraling scandals and probes.

Benjamin Locke

Benjamin Locke is a retired college professor with an undergraduate degree in Industrial Labor and Relations from Cornell University and an MBA from the European School of Management.

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