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Trump Organization reinstated as defendant in DC AG’s case against Trump’s inaugural committee

By Tierney Sneed, CNN

A Washington, DC, court reinstated the Trump Organization as a defendant in a lawsuit the DC attorney general brought against former President Donald Trump‘s 2017 inaugural committee.

DC Superior Court Judge Yvonne Williams on Monday reversed an earlier decision to dismiss the case against Trump’s business. On Thursday, the court is expected to set a trial schedule.

In the case, DC Attorney General Karl Racine is accusing Trump’s 2017 Presidential Inaugural Committee of misusing non-profit funds to pay for event space at the Trump Hotel and in other transactions. Racine also alleges the committee paid a debt owed by the Trump Organization.

A spokesperson for Racine said in a statement that “the case will now proceed to trial fully intact as it was originally brought” and “full steam ahead.”

The legal trouble for Trump’s namesake company comes a day after revelations that the former President’s longtime accounting firm had informed the business it should no longer rely on nearly 10 years’ worth of financial statements and that the firm would no longer be its accountants.

Williams said in a Monday opinion that the judge who had previously ruled in favor of dismissing the case against the Trump Organization had erred. The previous dismissal decision, which had been issued in November by Judge Jose Lopez, had been based on Racine’s failure to depose two associates of Donald Trump Jr., Gentry Beach and Lindsay Santoro. But, Williams acknowledged on Monday, Racine’s request for additional discovery that covered those two associates had not been ruled on yet.

Williams said that “it was erroneous for the Court to rule against the District based on the District’s failure to depose or otherwise obtain discovery from, Mr. Beach and Ms. Santoro, when the Court had held in abeyance ruling on the District’s request to conduct that very discovery.”

Williams said the court would rule on the discovery requests at Thursday’s hearing. And in her opinion Monday, she left the door open for the Trump Organization to try again later in the proceedings to secure a ruling in its favor before a trial.

The Trump Organization did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

Beach signed a contract involving a large block of rooms booked for people affiliated with the Trump Organization at the Loews Madison Hotel during the week of the inauguration. Santoro, Trump Jr.’s personal assistant, was listed as the point of contact for the rooms.

The November order dismissing the Trump Organization from the case had cited a lack of evidence that Beach had been authorized by the company to negotiate the contract.

The inaugural committee was not a party to the contract, the attorney general said in a court filing last year. But after the Trump Organization failed to pay the invoice, a collection agency contacted a top official on the committee, Rick Gates, who then forwarded the invoice to people working on the inaugural’s finances, according to the attorney general’s court filings. The committee ultimately paid the $50,000 debt, Racine has claimed in the case.

In the case, the DC attorney general is alleging that the use of the inaugural committee’s funds for that transaction, and for payments to the Trump Hotel that Racine describes as inflated, is a violation of DC’s laws for non-profit spending.

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CNN’s Jessica Schneider and Kara Scannell contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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