Manhattan Feds Subpoena Trump Inaugural Committee

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during the Salute to Our Armed Services Inaugural Ball at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, January 20, 2017. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credi... US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump during the Salute to Our Armed Services Inaugural Ball at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, January 20, 2017. / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images) MORE LESS
February 4, 2019 9:02 p.m.

Federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York sent a wide-ranging subpoena to Trump’s presidential inaugural committee on Monday.

An inaugural committee spokesman confirmed the receipt of the subpoena in a statement to TPM.

“We have just received a subpoena for documents,” the statement read. “While we are still reviewing the subpoena, it is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry.”

The New York Times reported that the subpoenas asked the committee to produce documents related to the committee’s donors and event attendees, vendors, contracts, federal disclosure filings, and “any benefits handed out” to guests and donors, including photo ops with the president.

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The Times also reported that prosecutors were interested in whether foreigners had circumvented campaign finance restrictions to illegally donate to the committee, and whether employees on the committee were aware of any such donations. The investigation is also reportedly focusing on whether the committee made false statements to the Federal Election Commission.

Foreigners cannot contribute money to inaugural committees, political campaigns, and PACs under U.S. federal law.

At least one person has said he funneled foreign cash into the inaugural committee in exchange for tickets. D.C. lobbyist W. Sam Patten admitted to the scheme during an August guilty plea to failing to register as a foreign agent, saying he used a straw donor to funnel $50,000 into the committee in exchange for tickets for a Ukrainian oligarch.

Patten agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of the deal.

The Washington Post reported that the subpoena also requested “all communications” with Los Angeles venture capitalist Imaad Zuberi and the company he is linked to – Avenue Ventures. FEC records show that that firm donated $900,000 to the inaugural committee.

TPM reported last month that the inaugural committee had failed to disclose key details about its finances to the IRS.

Accusations of self-dealing and mismanagement have surfaced since the 2017 event, which took in a record $107 million haul from donors. During the trial of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, inaugural committee deputy chairman Rick Gates said that he may have stolen money from the committee.

The New York Times reported last month that the inaugural committee spent lavishly.

The probe reportedly emerged from a taped phone call between the inaugural committee’s largest vendor – Melania Trump associate Stephanie Winston Wolkoff – and former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors reportedly found the tape during a raid of Cohen’s New York apartment and office in April 2018.

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