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Did the Trumps bribe their way out of prosecution?

Saul Loeb - Pool/Getty Images

Ivanka, Donald Trump’s favorite daughter, and Donald Jr., his first afterthought, narrowly avoided criminal prosecution for fraud in 2012, The New Yorker, ProPublica, and WNYC reported on Wednesday morning. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, a Democrat, closed a two-year-old investigation into the Trumps that year—after meeting with Trump Sr.’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, who had donated money to Vance.

According to the report, Manhattan’s Major Economic Crimes unit thought the claims made against the Trumps possessed merit:

They believed that Ivanka and Donald, Jr., might have violated the Martin Act, a New York statute that bans any false statement in conjunction with the sale of a security or real estate. Prosecutors also saw potential fraud and larceny charges, applying a legal theory that, by overstating the number of units sold, the Trumps were falsely inflating their value and, in effect, cheating unsuspecting condo buyers.

It is striking that Vance decided to stop pursuing the investigation. He says he committed no wrongdoing, telling reporters that he had refunded Kasowitz’s original campaign donation before meeting with the attorney. But after the district attorney dropped the case, Kasowitz made another, larger donation to Vance, and helped his campaign raise more funds from other sources.

This wouldn’t be the first time corruption allegations have dogged Vance. In July, The New York Daily News reported that Vance’s office had paid about $500,000 to a security firm that had also donated to his campaigns. Vance denied any favoritism at the time, saying that his office contracted the firm because of its expertise in Palantir. That’s not a sturdy excuse, and the latest revelations wear it even thinner.