Trump Inaugural Committee Under Feds' Microscope For Potential Corruption

Saul Bowman
December 15, 2018

The Wall Street Journal reports a federal investigation has been launched into whether the then United States president-elect misspent some of the money earmarked for his inauguration.

The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that the US Attorney's office in Manhattan is also investigating whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence in or access to the new administration.

To exchange money for political help could violate US corruption laws; it could also be illegal to redirect the inaugural committee's money.

The investigation is a result of federal prosecutor's April raids on Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, according to the Journal report.

In the recording, Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to The Journal.

According to the report, NY prosecutors also are investigating "whether some of the committee's top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said. We simply have no evidence the investigation exists", the statement read.

The inaugural committee has publicized its top five vendors, as required by law; those vendors accounted for $61 million of the $103 million it spent.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

Trump Inauguration Committee Under Criminal Investigation Over Spending: Report

Billionaire Thomas Barrack Jr. headed the inauguration committee, and has reportedly not been approached by investigators.

"The inaugural committee hasn't been asked for records or been contacted by prosecutors".

It said that the chair of Trump's inaugural committee, Thomas Barrack Jr, who was interviewed by Mueller's office previous year, had met wealthy individuals close to the governments of both Qatar and the UAE. Gates pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy charges relating to his foreign consulting work with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the committee raised $23 million, making it one of the most important sources of funds for advertisements, polls and other political expenditures on Trump's behalf.

His inaugural fund raised $107 million - four times as much as the pro-Trump political action committee and twice as much as the amount raised for President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller has examined whether any foreign money came into the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign contributions.

The inquiry is not the first time prosecutors have scrutinized Trump's inauguration. Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison this week for tax evasion and campaign-finance violations. An August guilty plea by political consultant and lobbyist Thomas Patten revealed that he laundered $57,000 via an unnamed "straw purchaser" in the USA so that an unnamed "prominent Ukraine oligarch" could get four tickets to the inauguration, according to Patten's Statement of the Offense.

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