Trump raised twice as much for his inauguration as any of his predecessors on events that seemed comparatively scaled back, and reported spending most of the $107 million on inaugural events. That might not be true. Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are investigating whether that money was misspent.
There are also allegations that some of the fund’s top donors used their contribution to purchase access, which is a violation of federal anti-corruption laws.
The Trump campaign is no stranger to dishonesty regarding money, and neither is the inauguration fund in specific. The inauguration pledged millions of dollars to charity, as well. And that wasn’t exactly what happened.
The investigations partly come from investigations into the connection between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as Russian interference in American elections.
In April, as part of that investigation, federal agents raided the office of Trump’s longtime lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen. The FBI obtained in this raid a recording of a conversation between Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former Melania Trump adviser. Wolkoff expressed concerns about inauguration spending. This recording is in the possession of investigators.
The Wall Street Journal attempted to contact the inaugural committee for comment on the investigation only to find that the committee was apparently unaware that it was under investigation in the first place.
“We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists,” said a lawyer close to the matter.
Richard Gates, former campaign aide and inaugural committee deputy chairman, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy against the United States involving political consultancy unrelated to the campaign.
Gates has met with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Special Council on this subject according to unnamed sources.
The inaugural committee has attributed some of the costs to the last-minute nature of the event’s planning. Few expected that he was going to need an inaugural committee at all.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.