Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking into the remarkable level of access granted to a handful of Russian billionaires during President Trump’s glitzy January 2017 inauguration events, ABC News reported Thursday.
The Russian businessmen attended invitation-only festivities usually reserved for top political donors, where they hobnobbed with members of the incoming president’s inner circle, according to the report.
Inauguration guests are typically closely vetted and scrutinized for any foreign ties, Stephen Kerrigan, the organizer of Obama’s 2009 and 2013 inauguration events, told ABC.
Attendees at one formal dinner included billionaire Viktor Vekselberg, who was seated next to Trump fixer Michael Cohen and his family, according to ABC. A U.S. investment firm run by Vekselberg’s cousin Andrew Intrater shelled out $500,000 in payments to Cohen a leaked report from Cohen’s bank revealed earlier this year.
Both Vekselberg and Intrater were reportedly stopped at a New York airport and interviewed by members of Mueller’s team in late 2017.
Another unnamed Russian oligarch was invited to the U.S. Capitol for an inaugural luncheon hosted by senior members of Congress, according to ABC.
The FBI’s concern about the attendance of these Russian elites at Trump’s inauguration was previously reported by the Washington Post.