White House, inaugural committee push back against report of criminal investigation

Trump Inauguration Committee Under Criminal Investigation Over Spending: Report

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that prosecutors in NY are investigating whether some of the committee's donors made contributions in exchange for political favours and access to the Trump administration- a potential violation of federal corruption laws.

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. In the conversation Wolkoff, one of the main producers of the 20 January 2017 inauguration celebrations, is alleged to have "expressed concern" about how the inaugural committee was spending the money it had raised.

When it came out this year that President Donald Trump's inaugural committee raised and spent unprecedented amounts, people wondered where all that money went.

The Journal said there was no sign the probe was targeting Barrack. "We can assume that pattern may have held when he was in that period when he was the president-elect into the time after his inauguration".

The New York Times reported that both prosecutors investigating the donations and members of Mueller's team have asked witnesses whether anyone from Qatar or other Gulf countries contributed money to the inaugural fund, which raised more than $100 million - more than double the sum raised by Trump's predecessor Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.

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The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, said the investigation arose in part from the slew of materials seized in April raids on Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, by federal prosecutors. On the recording, Winston Wolkoff reportedly criticized the president of the inaugural fund, Tom Barrack, over its management.

The Journal said prosecutors are also seeking documents from Franklin Haney, a Tennessee developer who gave $1m to the inaugural committee and later hired Cohen to help him obtain a $5bn USDepartment of Energy loan.

Prosecutors are also questioning Richard Gates, who was the partner of Trump's campaign manager, Paul Manafort, at the time of Trump's election.

Among the wealthy donors who gave a $1 million or more were casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, AT&T and Boeing. Once Trump was elected, foreign governments were frantically trying to build connections to the incoming administration, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

A lawyer for Mr. Haney didn't respond to requests for comment. Among other issues, they asked about a Mediterranean cruise that Barrack and Manafort took after Manafort was sacked in August 2016 from the Trump campaign because of a scandal over his previous work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine. Earlier this year, Sam Patten, a well-known Republican lobbyist, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian political party and admitted to lining up a straw purchaser to pay $50,000 for four tickets to the inauguration.

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