Prosecutors examine tens of thousands of Trump inauguration documents



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The president's inaugural committee handed over the cache of documents over several weeks in response to a large subpoena requesting documents, records and communications regarding finances, vendors and inauguration donors, sent in February by the US Attorney's Office with Southern District of New York. The last set of documents was produced during the last month, said people familiar with the subject.

The end of document production indicates that the investigation is moving to the next stage. The authorities are investigating whether a record $ 107 million in donations for the inaugural ceremony have been badly spent, used to improperly profit some people or come from foreign donors in violation of campaign finance laws that prohibit people from entering the country. Foreign money in US elections, said people aware of the investigation.

The ongoing investigation is one of many Trump activities related to the campaign or campaign that the White House faces on multiple fronts, despite the end of the investigation. Special advocate Robert Mueller. What prosecutors might find could also shed light on any attempts by the government or foreign companies to influence the president as the 2020 campaign approaches.
Prosecutors questioned at least one inaugural organizer, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, whose firm, WIS Media, had received $ 25.8 million for production events. Wolkoff, a city planner from New York City who participated in events such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute Gala, known as Met Gala, was also a close friend of Melania Trump.
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The pace and direction of the investigation are unclear. So far, prosecutors have not questioned some of the biggest organizers of the inauguration finances nor asked for documents at the Trump organization, according to people close to the company. investigation. Other people familiar with the investigation say that there is no obviously damaging information in the documents.

Representatives of the US Attorney's Office and the Inaugural Committee declined to comment.

We do not know publicly who the other authorities talked to. Rick Gates, who was deputy chair of the inaugural committee, pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and lies to investigators about such an unrelated conduct. Prosecutors in Washington said that Gates continued to cooperate with the Department of Justice. Under his plea agreement, he is obliged to cooperate with any federal inquiry.

The federal inquiry is not the only one facing the inauguration. Attorneys General of New Jersey and Washington, DC also issued subpoenas. They review the committee since its status as a non-profit organization and seek to find out if it has broken the laws governing how it has spent the funds.

Comes from the Cohen Raid

The federal investigation was developed in part thanks to a record of prosecutors obtained during the search of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Cohen recorded a conversation he had with Wolkoff.

Wolkoff expressed concern in the recorded conversation about how the inaugural committee was spending money, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Wolkoff was summoned by a federal grand jury to Manhattan in October and met with prosecutors, according to people close to the investigation. The Wolkoff lawyer declined to comment.

The investigation intensified in February when prosecutors sent the summons to appear before the Inaugural Committee, led by long-time friend Tom Barrack, for any documents and communications about the "benefits" offered. to donors, including "tickets, / or small party receptions." Barrack was not named in the subpoena.

It also obliges the committee to provide information on donations made directly to suppliers, as well as communications dealing with this possibility. And he is looking for documents relating to virtually all donors and donors, participants in a committee meeting, documents relating to the legal obligations attached to donations and even the "possibility" of donations by foreign nationals.

The inauguration raised a record amount and spent it without counting on dinners and events, including $ 1.5 million at the Trump International Hotel in Washington. WNYC and ProPublica, citing emails, reported last year that Wolkoff was concerned about the rates quoted by the Trump Hotel.
The subpoena referred to only one person: Imaad Zuberi and his investment company, Avenue Ventures LLC.

It is unclear what drew the attorneys to Zuberi, a Los Angeles-based venture capitalist, but the long-time Democrats' donor winced after the election, amassing money in the coffers of Republicans. His company donated $ 900,000 to the inaugural fund, according to the records of the Federal Election Commission, giving him access to two lavish dinners.

While Zuberi's donation at the inauguration was important, 47 people and companies exceeded his contribution.

Zuberi also attended two events that allowed him to get closer to the president and meet separately with Cohen. In a conversation with Cohen, they discussed a potential real estate project in Manhattan, but this one never materialized. Zuberi also has commercial ties with the Qataris.

In the three months following the sending of this summons to the inauguration committee, Zuberi did not hear from federal prosecutors in New York, his spokesman told CNN. Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles are investigating Zuberi for tax issues unrelated to the inauguration.

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