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Trump’s inauguration committee probed over misspent monies, foreign donations and more: reports

Click to play video: 'Feds probing Trump inauguration spending: Wall Street Journal'
Feds probing Trump inauguration spending: Wall Street Journal
Federal prosecutors are investigating whether U.S. President Donald Trump's inaugural committee misspent some of the funds it raised, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter – Dec 13, 2018

Misspent monies. Foreign donations. Political favours.

All allegations that federal prosecutors are probing in connection with U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee and a super PAC that supports him, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

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Federal prosecutors are looking into allegations of misspending around the committee’s $107 million in donations, anonymous sources said.

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The investigation is also looking at whether some donors gave money in order to obtain access to Trump’s administration and influence its policies, some of the sources told the newspaper.

To exchange money for political help could violate U.S. corruption laws; it could also be illegal to redirect the inaugural committee’s money.

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The probe is based, in part, on materials that were obtained following an FBI raid of ex-Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s office, home and hotel, the Journal added.

Those materials included a recording that had Cohen speaking to ex-Melania Trump advisor Stephanie Winston Woloff, in which they discussed how the inaugural committee’s money was being spent.

The committee has also faced scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller, who has looked into whether it took in any foreign money — something it can’t do.

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Meanwhile, The New York Times also reported on the federal probe of Trump’s inaugural committee.

That story focused on the alleged source of funds — anonymous sources told the newspaper that it’s looking into whether donations came from people in Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The investigation is also examining foreign donations to a super PAC known as “Rebuilding America Now” — neither is legal under federal laws, the Times noted.

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One key name is tied to both bodies: Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire and Trump friend who raised money for the inaugural committee and for the super PAC.

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A spokesman for Barrack told the newspaper that his client “has never talked with any foreign individual or entity for the purposes of raising money for or obtaining donations related to either the campaign, the inauguration or any such political activity.”

Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman found guilty of bank and tax fraud who was later accused of telling “multiple discernible lies” to investigators, was the one who suggested that Barrack start up and raise money for the super PAC, according to Times sources.

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Barrack told investigators last year that Manafort looked at the super PAC as if it were part of the campaign, even though laws delineate between the two.

Campaign staffers can’t join a PAC supporting the same candidate within at least 120 days, the Times noted.

Nevertheless, Ken McKay and Laurance Gay, friends of Manafort’s, were directed to run the PAC despite having worked on the campaign.

The committee raised $107 million.

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