The Trump Organization has accused a law firm of removing references about its long-term relationship with the company from its website as the organization alleges a conflict of interest over a lawyer from the firm working for a House committee that’s investigating the President’s company.
In a new statement Monday, the Trump Organization said that until Friday, New York law firm Kramer Levin had boasted on its website of its 25-year relationship with the real estate firm, saying it advised on “innumerable real estate deals, including Trump Tower, 40 Wall Street, Trump Palace, Trump International in New York and Chicago, the GM building, the Plaza Hotel and numerous other matters.” The Trump Organization said the description had been scrubbed from Kramer Levin real estate partner Jay Neveloff’s biography.
A spokeswoman for Kramer Levin confirmed the description had been removed. “It is common practice to list prior representative experience in lawyer biographies on the website. The reference in Jay Neveloff’s bio was removed on Friday to avoid confusion,” said Jennifer Manton of Kramer Levin. She added that no lawyer at the firm is currently working on any Trump-affiliated matter.
On Tuesday, Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican who’s the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter addressed to Paul Pearlman, Kramer Levin’s managing partner, echoing the concerns raised by the Trump Organization about an alleged conflict of interest and questioning changes to the firm’s website. The letter cited the same example included in the Trump Organization’s statement.
“I hope your firm is not intentionally trying to downplay its longstanding ties to The Trump Organization – and actively changing its website in real-time – simply because one of your firm’s partners, Mr. (Barry) Berke, is now in a position to use the awesome powers of the United States Congress to investigate one of your firm’s leading clients,” Collins’ letter reads.
Collins asked for information about Berke’s salary, internal conflict checks and all references to Trump that were removed from the website.
“We just received the letter from Rep. Doug Collins and are reviewing it,” said Manton.
Multiple congressional committees have requested information from the Trump Organization in the past, and now with Democrats in control of the House members of several committees, including Oversight and Intelligence, have said they intend to dig into the Trump Organization. The House Oversight Committee in January asked the Trump Organization to turn over records relating to hush money payments made to silence women alleging affairs with Donald Trump before he became President. Trump has denied having affairs with the women. Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, is testifying before the committee Wednesday.
The new round of letters and statements comes after the Trump Organization told the House Oversight Committee on Friday that it would not respond to document requests because the House Judiciary Committee had hired Berke, which it said created a conflict of interest. Berke co-authorized think tank treatises in 2017 and 2018 outlining what they see as a case for impeaching or indicting Trump on charges of obstruction of justice.
It was the second rebuff by the Trump Organization, which previously told the Oversight Committee it wouldn’t comply with the request because it had already provided information to authorities.
The Judiciary Committee announced earlier this month that it was hiring Berke, a high-powered criminal defense attorney, as special oversight counsel for the committee, where he will help craft the panel’s plans to investigate the President and his administration.
On Monday, Trump Organization attorney Alan Futerfas sent a letter to Rep. Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat who chairs the Judiciary Committee, asking him to cease the investigation into Trump Organization for now because of the alleged conflict of interest.
Kramer Levin responded on Monday, saying, “For the past several years the firm’s work has involved only minor tasks for single purpose companies, such as pro forma amendments to condominium offering plans that date back more than a decade or the clearing up of minor building violations for management companies.”
On Tuesday, the Trump Organization called Kramer Levin’s claims “false, as the many press releases issued by Kramer Levin concerning their work for us (to say nothing of the invoices we have paid) attest. The firm’s work for us is in no way pro forma or ‘ministerial.’ It arises from a thirty-year relationship rooted in complex real estate matters.”
CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report.