WSJ: Trump inaugural committee under investigation

President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for the event, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Posted: Dec 14, 2018 4:35 PM
Updated: Dec 14, 2018 4:35 PM

President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is currently being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York for possible financial abuses related to the more than $100 million in donations raised for his inauguration, according to sources familiar with the matter.

One source familiar with the matter says the investigation is in the early stages and investigators are generally focused on whether any inauguration money was misspent.

The investigation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal Thursday afternoon.

Citing conversations with people familiar with the investigation, which is being handled by the US Attorney's office in Manhattan, the Journal reported that prosecutors are also looking into whether the committee accepted donations from individuals looking to gain influence in or access to the new administration.

The newspaper notes that "giving money in exchange for political favors" is illegal, as is misuse of any donated funds. The committee was registered as a nonprofit.

The New York Times reported Thursday night that federal prosecutors are looking into whether people from foreign countries funneled potentially illegal donations to both the inaugural fund and a pro-Trump super PAC in efforts to buy "influence over American policy." The paper, citing people familiar with the inquiry, said it focuses on people from Middle Eastern countries -- including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- and whether they "used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds."

Federal law does not allow foreign contributions to inaugural funds or PACs, according to the Times.

In a statement, Trump's inaugural committee said the celebration was "in full compliance with all applicable laws."

"The (committee) is not aware of any pending investigations and has not been contacted by any prosecutors. We simply have no evidence the investigation exists," the statement read.

"The (committee's) finances were fully audited internally and independently and are fully accounted. Moreover, the inauguration's accounting was provided both to the Federal Election Commission and the IRS in compliance with all laws and regulations. These were funds raised from private individuals and were then spent in accordance with the law and the expectations of the donors. 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 regardng the vetting of those donors."

When asked by reporters about the Wall Street Journal story Thursday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "That doesn't have anything to do with the President or the first lady. The biggest thing the President did, his engagement in the inauguration, was to come here and raise his hand and take the oath of office. The President was focused on the transition at that time and not on any of the planning for the inauguration."

According to the Journal, sources told the paper that the investigation "partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's business dealings."

During a raid of Cohen's properties last spring, a recorded conversation between him and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to first lady Melania Trump, was seized, according to the newspaper. Wolkoff expressed concern in the conversation about how the inaugural committee was spending money, a person familiar with the Cohen investigation told the Journal.

Rick Gates, Trump's former campaign aide who has been cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, was asked by prosecutors about the committee's spending and its donors, the Journal reported, citing conversations with people close to the matter.

Tom Barrack, a real estate developer who ran the inaugural committee, has not yet spoken with investigators since an interview he had with the special counsel last year, a source familiar with the matter told CNN. During his conversation with Mueller, the inaugural fund was only raised briefly, the source said.

"The inaugural committee hasn't been asked for records or been contacted by prosecutors. We are not aware of any investigation," the source told CNN.

The committee, which CNN previously reported had raised a record-setting $107 million, received much of its funding from wealthy donors who gave $1 million or more, according to the Journal. Some of the fund's top donors, including billionaire Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. (the parent company of CNN) and Boeing Co. are not currently under investigation, the newspaper reported.

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 500286

Reported Deaths: 9968
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34281537
DeSoto32039402
Hinds31911626
Jackson24466379
Rankin21971390
Lee15501235
Madison14566279
Jones13825242
Forrest13438250
Lauderdale11984316
Lowndes11003188
Lamar10510135
Pearl River9494237
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Hancock7727126
Washington7418157
Oktibbeha7139131
Monroe6765176
Warren6679176
Pontotoc6655102
Neshoba6625206
Panola6511131
Marshall6460134
Bolivar6302148
Union601294
Pike5815152
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George496579
Scott472198
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Tate4579109
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Winston314091
Clay307676
Chickasaw299467
Clarke292194
Calhoun278945
Holmes267887
Smith263350
Yalobusha233347
Tallahatchie226851
Walthall218763
Greene218248
Lawrence212440
Perry205256
Amite204755
Webster202646
Noxubee186440
Montgomery179456
Jefferson Davis171442
Carroll168738
Tunica159439
Benton148438
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132237
Humphreys129238
Franklin119428
Quitman106428
Wilkinson104839
Jefferson94434
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 815989

Reported Deaths: 15311
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1144621915
Mobile723961330
Madison52114694
Shelby37488348
Baldwin37167547
Tuscaloosa35013606
Montgomery34031734
Lee23177245
Calhoun22190476
Morgan20719376
Etowah19774497
Marshall18277302
Houston17333411
St. Clair15967339
Cullman15365292
Limestone15270198
Elmore15126284
Lauderdale14205294
Talladega13783276
DeKalb12598260
Walker11142369
Blount10132175
Autauga9910146
Jackson9819182
Coffee9190191
Dale8874185
Colbert8803201
Tallapoosa7063198
Escambia6755130
Covington6695184
Chilton6608161
Russell626659
Franklin5947105
Chambers5563142
Marion4966126
Dallas4902200
Clarke474083
Pike4722105
Geneva4567126
Winston4493103
Lawrence4286117
Bibb423686
Barbour356576
Marengo337489
Monroe330863
Randolph328263
Butler325396
Pickens314182
Henry311865
Hale310688
Cherokee301660
Fayette291379
Washington251151
Cleburne247160
Crenshaw244075
Clay241268
Macon231763
Lamar219547
Conecuh185753
Coosa179439
Lowndes174464
Wilcox167839
Bullock151644
Perry138440
Sumter132038
Greene126244
Choctaw87827
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