In the spring of 2012, Donald Trump’s two eldest children, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., found themselves in a precarious legal position. For two years, prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office had been building a criminal case against them for misleading prospective buyers of units in the Trump SoHo, a hotel and condo development that was failing to sell.
In one email, according to four people who have seen it, the Trumps discussed how to coordinate false information they had given to prospective buyers. In another, according to a person who read the emails, they worried that a reporter might be onto them. In yet another, Donald Jr. spoke reassuringly to a broker who was concerned about the false statements, saying that nobody would ever find out, because only people on the email chain or in the Trump Organization knew about the deception, according to a person who saw the email.Still, the case dragged on.
In a meeting with the defense team, Donald Trump, Sr., expressed frustration that the investigation had not been closed. Soon after, his longtime personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz entered the case. Kasowitz, who by then had been the elder Donald Trump’s attorney for a decade, is primarily a civil litigator with little experience in criminal matters.
But in 2012, Kasowitz donated $25,000 to the reelection campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., making Kasowitz one of Vance’s largest donors.Ultimately, Vance overruled his own prosecutors. Three months after the meeting, he told them to drop the case. Kasowitz subsequently boasted to colleagues about representing the Trump children, according to two people. He said that the case was “really dangerous,” one person said, and that it was “amazing I got them off.” (Kasowitz denied making such a statement.)