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Trump Organization fires back at House probe, claiming ethics conflicts

The Trump Organization is firing back at investigations into its business, demanding a House panel end its probe because of ethical conflicts.

The Trump Organization said in a letter on Monday to the House Judiciary Committee that a lawyer assisting its investigation, Barry Berke, has tainted the panel’s work because he is partner at a law firm that has represented the family company for more than a quarter of a century.

In his letter to the House panel, Trump Organization lawyer Alan Futerfas said hiring Berke, a partner at Kramer Levin in New York, violates “basic ethical precepts that govern the legal profession” and his help “irreparably taints the Committee’s work.”

The letter to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York demands the panel cease its investigation and hand over all his emails, text messages and other communication with the committee. 

Members of both the House and Senate Judiciary Committees have expressed concerns about the Trump Organization’s ties to foreign dignitaries such as the Saudi royal family, which reportedly has stayed at Trump Organization properties.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump’s company said it was ditching plans for two new hotel chains announced two years ago, casting blame in part on a hostile political environment. Those hotels had raised ethics concerns, with critics saying investors in the hotels could use the properties as ways to gain favor with the Trump administration. 

Kramer Levin said in an emailed statement that Berke’s assistance to the committee violates no ethical rules and that the firm has worked with the Trump Organization on mostly minor tasks, such preparing amendments to offering plans for condominium sales. It said the letter “grossly misstated the facts of our prior representations.”

A spokesperson for the House Judiciary Committee majority said Berke was working for it only in his personal capacity, and the assertions in the Trump letter were “without merit.”

“Stalinist” tactics

Separately, President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., accused federal prosecutors in a “Fox & Friends” interview of resorting to “Stalinist” tactics as they investigate the president’s inaugural committee and company.

In his interview on Fox News, Donald Trump Jr. said the investigation is “as political as it gets.” He said the “dream” of federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York is to “try to find something to get Trump,” adding, “It’s that old Stalinist tactic, you know?”

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan declined to comment. Joseph Stalin led the former Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until 1953.

Trump Jr. — who, with his brother, Eric, is helping run the family business while their father is president — also said he’s not worried about the investigations “because we know there’s nothing there.”

Prosecutors are investigating, among other potential crimes, whether foreigners illegally contributed to inaugural events in 2017.


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