Prosecutors from the Southern District of New York are investigating President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, which spent over $100 million on the event, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Citing “people familiar with the matter,” The Journal claims the probe is looking into misspent funds as well as “examining 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.”
Of course, Donations given in exchange for favors likely violate anti-corruption law. The committee was registered as a nonprofit and spent a record $107 million dollars.
“In April raids of Mr. Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents obtained a recorded conversation between Mr. Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events,” The Journal reported. “In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.”
“The inaugural committee has publicly identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, and it hasn’t provided details on those expenses, according to tax filings,” The Journal added. “The committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural fund reported raising in 2009, the previous record. President Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more—including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co., according to Federal Election Commission filings.”
The feds have a key cooperating witness in the investigation. Rick Gates, who was Trump’s 2016 deputy campaign manager and served as deputy chairman of the inauguration. Gates has been cooperating with prosecutors since his February plea deal.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee released a statement saying: “We simply have no evidence the investigation exists … The names of donors were provided to the FEC and have been public for nearly two years and those donors were vetted in accordance with the law and no improprieties have been found regarding those donors.”
Buckle up, folks. This is going to get interesting.