After days of mixed signals, Donald Trump’s eldest sons confirmed Wednesday that they would not be attending an inauguration weekend charity event honoring them and their father, and will no longer be available for hunting excursions with top donors to the January fundraiser.
A Trump transition official told the Washington Post about this definitive change in plans, which came after Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were accused of influence-peddling by offering deep-pocketed attendees access to the presidential family.
Questions remain about how involved Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. were in organizing “Opening Day 45,” an event hosted by a charity with which they’re registered as directors.
An initial draft invitation obtained by TMZ highlighted some major perks for top-tier donors. Those who spent $250,000 or more would be able to meet with Trump, and those who donated $500,000 or more would receive a “multi-day hunting and/or fishing excursion” with Trump’s adult sons.
Those prizes have been stripped from a final version of the invitation released Tuesday and posted on a newly-created website for the event, which was taken down after briefly going live on Tuesday. Top donors will instead receive a private reception with “VIPs and celebrities associated with the event,” as well as a “multi-day outdoor excursion.”
These notable changes came after the Center for Public Integrity reported that the Opening Day Foundation, which was hosting the event, was incorporated in Texas just last week and that Trump’s eldest sons are two of the four registered directors. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks walked the sons’ involvement back in a Tuesday statement, saying that the details of the draft invite were not “approved or pursued by the Trump family” and that the sons “are not involved in any capacity.”
Transition officials told the Post that the Trump sons were listed on the foundation incorporation documents without their permission, and asked the Texas secretary of state to remove their names.
Yet one of the other organizers listed as an Opening Day Foundation director, private-equity investor Tom Hicks Jr., told the Post that Donald Trump Jr. has played a key role in planning the fundraiser.
“After the president-elect won, we got focused on this,” he said. “Don Jr. and Gentry [Beach, the fourth director and a close friend of the Trump sons] have been spearheading it.”
As recently as Tuesday, event spokesman Mark Brinkherhoff told the Post that he couldn’t confirm whether the newly-sworn in Trump would attend, but that he expected his eldest sons to show up. Late that night, Eric Trump told the New York Times neither he or his brother intended to do so.
This post has been updated.