Trump inaugural committee documents are subpoenaed by federal prosecutors
President Donald Trump. Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock.com.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed documents from President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee relating to donors, foreign contributions, vendors, contractors, spending and federal disclosure filings.
The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal reviewed the documents, while reports by ABC News and the New York Times rely on anonymous sources. A spokesperson confirmed the inaugural committee received the subpoena and pledged cooperation.
The committee raised a record $107 million for the inauguration.
According to the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, information sought includes any benefits given to top donors, payments made directly by donors to vendors, and donation disclosures in filings with the Federal Election Commission.
Sources told the New York Times that prosecutors are interested in potential money laundering and election fraud.
Federal law bans foreign contributions to inaugural committees and bans knowing false statements to the Federal Election Commission. The committee is required to make public its top five donors.
The leader of the inaugural committee, Thomas Barrack, is not mentioned in the subpoena. Much of the fundraising was handled by Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty last February to lying to investigators and conspiracy in connection with Ukrainian work for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Gates has testified it’s possible he submitted false expense reports to the inaugural committee.
Two sources told the Wall Street Journal that Gates allegedly asked several vendors whether they would be willing to accept payment directly from donors or from channels outside the inaugural committee.
The subpoena requests information related to Los Angeles financier Imaad Zuberi, who gave $900,000 to the inaugural committee through his company. Zuberi was previously a top fundraiser for Democrats.
Zuberi’s spokesperson said Zuberi knows nothing about a subpoena, and he is bewildered as to why he was named in it. The spokesperson told the Washington Post that Zuberi donated his own money, and his donation has no connection to another individual or entity.
The subpoena also seeks inaugural committee communications with a credit-card payment-processing company called Stripe, one of whose investors is Josh Kushner, the brother of Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The subpoena reportedly arose from the investigation of Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Cohen has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress, campaign finance violations, and tax and bank fraud.
One recording seized in the Cohen probe is a recorded conversation with Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who worked on inaugural events. On the tape, Wolkoff reportedly expresses concern about how the inaugural committee is spending money, a source told the Wall Street Journal.
According to the New York Times, Wolkoff was fired as an adviser to Melania Trump in early 2018 after inaugural committee financial disclosures showed $26 million in payments to a subcontractor and other entities Wolkoff controlled through her event planning firm. The payments yielded a $1.6 million commission for her company.