In the end, Al Capone wasn’t finally arrested on racketeering charges or his murderous planning of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, but for tax evasion.
It may not be surprising, therefore, to imagine that the first indictment of a member of the family of Donald Trump might be for a similarly less gruesome offense rather than for the more serious legal issues involved in plotting to seditiously overthrow the results of a legitimate election.
It remains to be seen as to whether the revelation today by Mother Jones — that Donald Trump Jr. “made apparently false statements” in his sworn deposition in a lawsuit filed last year against his father’s inauguration committee and the Trump Organization over the misuse of funds donated to help pay for the 2017 inauguration — will lead to any indictments, but accusations of perjury by the president’s eldest son have already started.
The lawsuit for which Trump Jr. was being deposed was filed by the attorney general of Washington, DC, and “alleges that the Inaugural Committee, a nonprofit corporation, coordinated with the Trump family to grossly overpay for event space in the Trump International Hotel. Although the Inaugural Committee was aware that it was paying far above market rates, it never considered less expensive alternatives, and even paid for space on days when it did not hold events. The Committee also improperly used non-profit funds to throw a private party [at the Trump Hotel] for the Trump family costing several hundred thousand dollars.”
In addition to Don Jr., the president’s eldest daughter Ivanka was also deposed, along with Tom Barrack, the chairman of the inauguration committee, Rick Gates, the committee’s deputy chair, who pled guilty to two charges in the Mueller investigation of the Trump campaigns ties to Russia, and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, the producer for the inauguration committee, who was deposed as a cooperating witness for the investigators.
It is only Donald Trump Jr., however, who is facing allegations of dissembling during his deposition.
According to Mother Jones:
“During his deposition, Trump Jr. frequently replied, ‘I don’t recall,’ and he downplayed his involvement in preparation for his father’s inauguration in January 2017. In several exchanges, he made statements that are contradicted by documents or the recollections of others and that appear to be false,” David Corn writes in the magazine.
“One of the clearest instances of Trump Jr. not testifying accurately came when he was asked about Winston Wolkoff. As the lawsuit notes, during the organization of the inauguration, Winston Wolkoff, then a close friend of Melania Trump, had raised concerns with the president-elect, Ivanka Trump, and Gates about the prices the Trump Hotel was charging the inauguration committee for events to be held there. This included a written warning to Ivanka Trump and Gates that Trump’s hotel was trying to charge the committee twice the market rate for event space. (Gates ignored the warning, the lawsuit notes, and the committee struck a contract with the Trump Hotel for $1.03 million, an amount the lawsuit says was far above the hotel’s own pricing guidelines.)”
“During his deposition, Trump Jr. was asked about Winston Wolkoff: ‘Do you know her?’ He replied, ‘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.’ He added, ‘I had no involvement with her,'” Corn continues.
Mother Jones then presents the first evidence that the eldest spawn of Donald Trump’s loins is not telling the truth about his interactions with Winston Wolkoff — a video where Junior effusively praises the woman with whom he claims to have had no involvement.
Author David Corn then details additional evidence of Junior’s lies under oath with the corroborating texts and emails as proof.
“On January 17, 2017, an assistant for Ivanka Trump texted Winston Wolkoff and said that Trump Jr. wanted to speak to her, providing Winston Wolkoff with his cell number,” Corn writes.
An email from Trump Jr. to Winston Wolkoff offering to help book talent for the event soon followed.
Mother Jones then goes onto recount the post-inaugural celebratory dinner at the White House where Winston Wolkoff joined the entire Trump family, Junior included, at the same table.
Don Jr. may want to consult a neurologist if he indeed is having trouble recognizing the close friend of his step-mother or remembering details of the events he attended on his dad’s inauguration day and evening.
Yet, his answers to questions like whether he attended a fancy candlelight dinner at Washington DC’s Union Station that night — another even for which video evidence exists — or an exclusive “private party for the Trump children” at the Trump International Hotel improperly paid for with campaign funds invariably echoed those given by his evasive father in many of the lawsuits which he has been forced to testify in, with “I don’t know” or “I don’t remember” a frequent refrain.
David Corn’s article in Mother Jones goes on to detail further instances where Don Jr.’s credibility in his deposition defies skeptical examination, but even one lie under oath should be enough for the former president’s son to face consequences for his violation of the law.
It remains to be seen whether Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine will do anything about the apparent perjury committed by Donald Trump Jr., but, unless the rich and powerful are treated equally under the law as those without fat bank accounts and powerful connections, American’s faith in their justice system cannot be restored.
Original reporting by David Corn at Mother Jones.
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