Federal investigators in Manhattan are putting their focus on the raising of funds and spending of monies that occurred during the 2017 inauguration ceremonies for President Donald Trump.
Authorities are concerned with two very important matters, according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal. One aspect of their investigation is looking at how the funds raised by the inaugural committee — totaling $107 million, the largest ever raised for a set of inauguration celebrations — was spent in an improper fashion.
Only $61 million of the inaugural committee’s expenditures have been acknowledged, as federal law mandates that only the spending to the highest paid vendors has to be disclosed to the public.
The second aspect of the investigation involves whether the raising of the funds themselves were improper. Investigators are looking into whether the money that was raised was given by donors who expected access to the president or other administration officials for the purposes of influencing them to shift policy matters that would benefit them or the businesses they were tied to.
Such an action, if discovered to have occurred, would most likely be seen to be in violation of anti-corruption and bribery laws on the books.
Lawyers with ties to the president’s inaugural committee said that they had not been contacted by investigators yet, according to reporting from The Hill.
The investigation was started, according to the Wall Street Journal, after federal agents conducted a warrant search on the business offices and home of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Among the documents seized was a recorded conversation between Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former unpaid adviser to first lady Melania Trump. Wolkoff also worked on coordinating the inaugural celebrations.
In the recording between she and Trump’s former lawyer, Wolkoff can be heard expressing worries over how the money that was raised for the inaugural committee was being spent. No further information about that conversation is known, as the contents that were reported on were given to the WSJ by a secondary source. The tape recordings are allegedly in the hands of federal investigators.
Because the information was obtained from Cohen’s files, it’s possible that the former Trump “fixer” lawyer knows more about how the money was spent. Cohen could be in discussions (or could have already divulged) with investigators information relevant to this latest Trump administration-connected scandal.
Per previous reporting earlier in the week from the Inquisitr, Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison to crimes he pleaded guilty to earlier in the year. The sentence was a reduced one, due to his cooperation with the Russia investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller.