Manhattan DA returned Trump attorney’s $32,000 campaign donation after journalists asked about closed Trump Soho investigation

Reporters looked into whether there was a connection between contribution by Marc Kasowitz and a closed criminal probe focused on President Trump's children

From left: Cyrus Vance Jr., Marc Kasowitz and Trump Soho
From left: Cyrus Vance Jr., Marc Kasowitz and Trump Soho

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. returned $32,000 in campaign contributions given to him by President Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz after a recent investigation revealed that the DA dropped a criminal investigation that focused on Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.

The DA’s office had been investigating allegations of securities fraud at the Trump Soho condo-hotel development in lower Manhattan when Kasowitz, who represented the Trumps, first made a $25,000 donation in and requested to meet with Vance. Vance returned that $25,000 before the May 2012 meeting occurred, but the investigation was dropped in the following months, and Kasowitz made another $32,000 contribution to Vance’s re-election campaign in January of 2013.

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But after he was interviewed by reporters from WNYC, ProPublica and the New Yorker about the matter, Vance refunded the money last week.

“The idea for me that I would make a case decision for $5,000, or $50,000 or $100,000, is ludicrous, because it’s so much more important for me to have the work of this office be perceived as fair and unbiased and not for sale,” Vance said. “None of the decisions revolved around campaign contributions at all, or anything other than my assessment that this was not a case the office should prosecute, on the merits.”

On Wednesday, The Real Deal published a 2011 letter to Vance from another attorney, Adam Leitman Bailey, that may also have played a role in the DA choosing to close the investigation. [NYT]Will Parker