Trump inauguration committee faces subpoena on $107m funding from top Washington prosecutor

Nation's capitol joins New York and New Jersey in demanding answers behind mysterious inaugural funds

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 27 February 2019 22:04
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Washington’s attorney general has subpoenaed Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, seeking documents that show how an exorbitant fund was raised and spent in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

The president’s inauguration raised controversy from the very beginning, when a pool of elite corporations and major donors began donating millions of dollars, eventually raising a total of $107m (£80m) to be spent at the celebration.

Spearheaded by billionaire Tom Barrack, the inaugural committee’s finances have also been shrouded in mystery ever since Mr Trump took office. Despite raising and spending more than twice than that of his predecessors, Mr Trump’s festivities lacked any of the staples that would come along with a heft price tag for such an event, such as high-profile performances or tremendous crowds.

The nation’s capitol joined New York and New Jersey in issuing subpoenas against Mr Trump’s inaugural committee on Wednesday, reflecting an unprecedented effort by federal prosecutors to understand how a president’s inaugural committee may have wrongfully accepted illegal contributions and later hid those details from the public.

When New York prosecutors issued their subpoena earlier this month, the committee’s spokeswoman Kristin Celauro told the Associated Press it was the committee’s “intention to cooperate with the enquiry.”

That subpoena reportedly demands documents from the committee related to any donations “made by or on behalf of foreign nationals, including but not limited to any communications regarding or relating to the possibility of donations by foreign nationals.”

The New York subpoena also seeks to determine whether the inaugural committee misspent any of the funds it raised to stage events celebrating the president’s inauguration.

The New York Times reported late last year that federal prosecutors are examining whether anyone from Qatar, Saudi Arabia or other Middle Eastern countries made illegal payments to the committee and a pro-Trump super political action committee.

Foreign contributions to inaugural funds and PACs are prohibited under federal law.

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Mr Barrack confirmed he was questioned by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in 2017, but said he was not a target of the investigation into Russian impact on the 2016 presidential election.

Additional reporting by AP

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