President Donald Trump’s 2017 inaugural committee is being investigated by federal prosecutors in New York over allegations that it misspent funds or accepted donations in exchange for access to his administration, according to a media report.
The inauguration committee had raised a record USD 107 million for expenses for Trump’s inauguration and events associated with it. 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.
“The criminal probe by the Manhattan US attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is 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, some of the people said,” the financial daily reported.
The daily said that “giving money in exchange of political favours could run afoul of federal corruption laws.” The White House distanced the president from his inauguration committee, saying it had nothing to do with Trump or his wife Melania.
“That doesn’t have anything to do with the president or the first lady,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters.
“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,” Sanders said.
According to the daily, federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating the matter from the documents it recovered during raid at the office and residences of Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen.
As of now, the inaugural committee has not been asked for records, the daily said. During a raid of Cohen’s properties in April, a recorded conversation between him and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to first lady Melania, 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.