Trump’s inauguration probed on whether it was front in cash-for-accessDecember 14, 2018
Trump’s inauguration is probed over whether it was a front for cash-for-access and influence after secret recording made by Michael Cohen is found by prosecutors
- Federal prosecutors in New York are examining whether President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the $107 million it raised
- They are examining whether donors gave money for inaugural events in return for access to the administration
- That could be a violation of federal law and federal corruption law
- The investigation came partly out of materials seized in the federal probe of Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s business dealings
- ‘That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,’ White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said of the report
Federal prosecutors in New York are examining whether President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the $107 million it raised, it was revealed on Thursday.
The investigation is also looking into whether some of the top donors to Trump’s crowning event gave money in exchange for access to his administration, policy concessions or to influence the administration, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Money in exchange for political favors could violate federal corruption laws. There could also be a violation of federal law if funds were diverted from the inaugural committee, which was registered as a nonprofit.
‘That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,’ White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday night. ‘The biggest thing the president did in his engagement for the inauguration was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office. The president was focused on the transition during that time and not on any of the planning.’
Federal prosecutors in New York are examining whether President Donald Trump ‘s 2017 inaugural committee misspent some of the $107 million it raised
Prosecutors are examining whether donors gave money for Trump’s inaugural events in return for access to the administration
The investigation came partly out of materials seized in the federal probe of Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s business dealings, the paper reported.
In April raids of Cohen’s home, office and hotel room, federal agents obtained a recorded conversation between Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events.
Wolkoff, in their conversation, expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending its money.
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Wolkoff, a former Vogue staffer who is one of the first lady’s longtime friends, left the administration in February after reports her firm, WIS Media Partners, received $26 million in payments to help plan the inauguration.
She was an unpaid adviser to the first lady.
It’s unknown when the conversation between Wolkoff and Cohen took place or why it was recorded.
According to the committee’s tax filings, Wolkoff’s WIS Media Partners was formed 45 days before the inauguration and got paid the most of any vendor for its work.
Trump’s inaugural committee raised more than double what former President Barack Obama’s first inaugural committee did.
Supporters said the president’s inauguration was so costly because no one expected him to win so all the planning was done at the last minute.
Trump’s funds came largely from wealthy donors and corporations who gave $1 million or more – including casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. andBoeing Co. , according to Federal Election Commission filings examined by the Journal.
A lawyer close to the matter told the Journal that the inaugural committee has not been contacted by prosecutors.
‘We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists,’ the lawyer told the newspaper.
Prosecutors have asked Richard Gates, a former campaign aide who served as the inaugural committee’s deputy chairman, about the committee’s spending and its donors.
Prosecutors were acting off a tip from a conversation found on a recording during a raid of Michael Cohen’s home, office and hotel room
The call was between Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump, who worked on the inaugural events
Supporters said the president’s inauguration was so costly because no one expected him to win so all the planning was done at the last minute
Gates has met with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and the special counsel’s office.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has examined whether any foreign money came into the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign contributions. In August, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, on a referral fromMueller, obtained a guilty plea from a D.C. consultant who admitted he used a U.S. citizen to serve as a ‘straw purchaser’ so that a ‘prominent Ukraine oligarch’ could attend the inauguration.
The names were never disclosed, the paper noted.
There have been other reports that prosecutors were interested in individuals with Russian ties attending Trump’s inauguration.
The Washington Post reported in January that the FBI expressed concerns about several Russians connected to the Kremlin who were in Washington, D.C., that weekend, and ABC News reported in June that Mueller was looking into how several Russian oligarchs were given access to invitation-only parties.
Since pleading guilty to eight counts in August, Cohen has been cooperating with prosecutors in New York and the special counsel’s office. On Wednesday, he was sentenced to three years in prison.
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