The Manhattan US Attorneys’ Office is a bustling place any time of year, but it seems that they’re hard at work right now wrapping up an early Christmas gift to America.
In a multilayered investigation, prosecutors are looking into allegations that Donald Trump’s Inaugural Committee misspent some of the record-breaking $107 million it raised through donations, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.
The information leading to the investigation arose from the materials gathered during the FBI raid on former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s home and offices, said people familiar with the probe. From the Journal:
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. 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 Committee, however, is still in the denial stages, with at least one lawyer for the TIC questioning “whether the investigation being reported by the Journal actually exists.”
However, in August, what may be a precursor to an investigation like this in Manhattan came out of the Mueller office: Former DC consultant Sam Patten pleaded guilty to a watered-down charge of spying — “acting as an unregistered foreign agent” — and as a part of his plea agreement, admitted to using a “straw purchaser” in the US in order to buy a ticket to the inauguration for a prominent Ukrainian oligarch. Foreign money is prohibited for inaugural funds.
Perhaps larger than the question of what, exactly, the Trump Committee spent its money on is whether or not they took money for access to the President, policy measures, or for the possibility of getting positions in the administration. On its face, such activity is bribery, but for legal purposes here it is termed a federal corruption law violation.
Unfortunately for Trump, a name he’s already used to is being questioned in the Manhattan probe: This was the aspect of the campaign that Rick Gates, the longtime associate of Paul Manafort, was tasked with in the Trump campaign. Previously he was generally referred to simply as a Manafort or Trump “aide” in the campaign. His title was actually deputy chair of the inaugural committee.
Another Trump crime, all wrapped up with a bow, just in time for the holidays!
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons