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Lawsuit against Trump inaugural committee can continue, judge rules

The suit alleges that the committee was aware it was being overcharged for services at Trump's Washington hotel and still spent over $1 million.
Image: President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump
President Donald Trump dances with first lady Melania Trump at an inaugural ball in Washington on Jan. 20, 2017.Evan Vucci / AP file

A judge denied a bid Wednesday to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that President Donald Trump's inaugural committee and the Trump Organization misused nonprofit funds to enrich the president's family business.

The suit, brought by Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine in January, alleges that the president's inaugural committee was aware that it was being overcharged for services at Trump's Washington hotel in 2017 and still spent over $1 million at the hotel, including money for a private party for Trump's three older children.

The inaugural committee argued in part that Racine's office failed to show a violation of the Nonprofit Act and does not allege that the committee is "continuing to act" in a manner that violates the law, court papers say.

But D.C. Superior Court Judge José López ruled against the defendants, writing that Racine's office has "sufficiently alleged that Defendant PIC is continuing to act in a prohibited manner," referring to the Trump inaugural committee.

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Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who organized the inauguration, provided tens of thousands of electronic documents to Racine's office, which were used to support the lawsuit's allegations.

"It's important that the truth come out and justice be served," Winston Wolkoff said Wednesday.

The president's inaugural committee and the Trump Organization did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A spokesperson for Trump Hotels has previously said the claims are "false, intentionally misleading and riddled with inaccuracies." A spokesman for the inaugural committee has defended the committee's work and denied any wrongdoing.

The suit seeks to recover the nonprofit funds that Racine says "were improperly funneled directly to the Trump family business," according to Racine's office. The money would then be directed to "suitable nonprofit entities dedicated to promoting civic engagement," Racine has said.

The committee raised a record $107 million to host events celebrating the inauguration. Yet three years later, Winston Wolkoff said, she still has questions about where it all went.

Adiel Kaplan contributed.