Ms. Trump wrote to Mickael C. Damelincourt, the hotel’s general manager, and asked him to call Mr. Gates to negotiate a better deal for the inaugural committee. “It should be a fair market rate,” Ms. Trump said in a follow-up email, which soon led to a new offer of $175,000 per day.
Still Ms. Wolkoff raised concerns.
“In my opinion, the max rental fee should be $85,000 per day,” she responded to Mr. Gates and Ms. Trump in an email where she also noted that other properties, such as Union Station, had offered their spaces for the inauguration at no charge.
This series of emails — filed in court documents as part of the lawsuit — is at the heart of the case that Mr. Racine, a Democrat, is pursuing.
On two of the days that the inaugural committee paid the hotel $175,000 to rent the ballroom, it had no events that used it, the lawsuit said. And on a third day when it actually used the ballroom for a luncheon — again paying $175,000 — another nonprofit group had paid just $5,000 to rent the same presidential ballroom space for an inauguration-related event that morning.
The committee also paid the hotel for costs associated with a “friends and family” event for Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. that their father was not expected to attend. The inauguration staff was so uncomfortable sponsoring the gathering that they tried to cancel it, court documents showed. But Mr. Damelincourt objected.
“Rick … just heard that the Friday night reception had been canceled. Is it accurate?” Mr. Damelincourt wrote. “Tough on us if it is as it was a lot of revenue.” The event was then rescheduled and took place the night Mr. Trump was sworn in.