The fate of the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, some White House insiders believed, rested on the slender shoulders of Ivanka Trump.
As President Trump watched the mayhem unfold on Jan. 6, 2021, unwilling to intervene, it became clear to those around him that there was only one person on Earth who could get him to call off the dogs: his elder daughter.
One can only wonder what might have happened if she hadn’t interceded.
After all, it took him several hours to ask the rioters to knock it off. And even then, he did not seem particularly upset about the bloodshed and violence. “Go home,” he told them in a recorded video. “We love you, you’re very special.”
On Thursday, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chairman of the bipartisan House committee investigating Jan. 6, invited Ivanka to testify about what she knew in advance and what she saw, heard and did on that awful day. She is the first Trump family member to be asked.
In an eight-page letter crammed with juicy details about what the committee has learned so far, Thompson politely extended the invitation.
“We respect your privacy,” he wrote, “and our questions will be limited to issues related to January 6th, the activities that contributed to or influenced events … and your role in the White House during that period.”
Of course they need to hear from Ivanka; she was in the room where it happened.
As advisor to the president and head of the White House Office of Economic Initiatives and Entrepreneurship, Ivanka was the Zelig of the Trump administration. She was everywhere, popping into view for photo ops with world leaders, ducking out of sight when the heat was on and ludicrously taking credit, by her father’s insane estimation, for creating 14 million jobs.
None of Trump’s staff, apparently, had enough juice to get him to act on Jan. 6: “He didn’t say yes to [Chief of Staff] Mark Meadows or [spokeswoman] Kayleigh McEnany or [presidential advisor] Keith Kellogg, but he might say yes to his daughter?” a committee member asked Kellogg when he testified.
“Exactly right,” replied Kellogg, who was also the vice president’s national security advisor.
Ivanka was right there when Trump put the screws on Pence to get him to toss out, or at least delay counting, the electoral votes of some states that Biden won.
So far, Ivanka, who has lain low after her twice-impeached father left office, has not publicly responded to the committee’s invitation. I suppose that’s understandable. She had her hands full last week.
On Tuesday, two days before Thompson’s invitation landed, New York Atty. Gen. Letitia James, who has been investigating the Trump Organization’s alleged financial chicanery, filed a detailed legal memo in state court, explaining why Ivanka, her brother Donald Trump Jr. and her father cannot refuse to respond to her subpoenas requiring them to testify about the family business.
They have preposterously claimed that her lawfully issued subpoenas, served Dec. 1, constitute an “unprecedented and unconstitutional maneuver.”
But, as James wrote in the filing, subpoenas to top and former company officials are “routine in complex financial investigations and are amply warranted here.”
Eric Trump, noted James, has already testified, and invoked his 5th Amendment privilege multiple times not to incriminate himself. (What was it that Donald Trump once said about taking the 5th? Oh, yes: “The mob takes the 5th. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the 5th Amendment?”)
It is not yet clear what is at stake in the New York investigation, but reams upon reams of documents procured by investigators show a family that appears to have wildly inflated the value of assets when it was convenient.
James has not yet decided whether she will take “civil remedial action” against the Trumps, but her office, she wrote in the court documents, “has developed significant … evidence indicating that the Trump Organization used fraudulent or misleading asset valuations to obtain a host of economic benefits, including loans, insurance coverage, and tax deductions.”
Why should Ivanka be worried?
Because, as James notes in a second memo, also filed Tuesday, she was the Trump firm’s executive vice president for development and acquisition through at least 2016, and until January 2017 was “a primary contact” for the company’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank. She has skated on thin legal ice before; in 2012, Ivanka and her older brother, Don Jr., narrowly avoided being charged with felony fraud after they misled prospective condo buyers about how well units were selling in a project called Trump SoHo. Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus Vance Jr. overruled his own prosecutors when he decided not to prosecute.
I admit, my eyes did go a little crossed as I read through the 115-page memo, which showed wild and improbable fluctuations in the value of various assets in the financial statements the Trump Organization prepared for its lenders.
One example out of dozens: The Trumps claimed a value of $161 million for property in Westchester County that had been appraised at between $29 million and $50 million. Apparently, they based the inflated value on un-permitted, unbuilt construction that had been, as they put it, “put on hold.”
It’s been comforting to watch the air of invincibility around the Trumps crumble.
In the same week that Ivanka was in the spotlight for various alleged Trump family misdeeds, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay an order forcing the National Archives to turn over Trump White House documents to the House Jan. 6 committee.
And in another blow, the district attorney of Fulton County, Ga., asked that a special grand jury look into Trump’s efforts to wheedle Georgia’s secretary of state into falsely claiming Trump had won the state in 2020.
Will the Trumps finally face the consequences of their bad behavior?
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.