So I touched on this Thursday evening, and now we know a bit more about the investigation that has opened up, regarding the finances for Donald Trump’s inauguration committee.
The gist of the Thursday evening revelation was that in the secret recordings made by former Trump attorney, Michael Cohen, he was heard having a conversation with a former Melania Trump advisor, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who served as a member of the inaugural committee.
Wolkoff was apparently concerned about how the inaugural funds were being spent.
Wolkoff’s event production firm, WIS Media Partners, formed 45 days before the inauguration, raked in nearly $26 million, and was the highest paid vendor for the event.
But there are other concerns.
Federal prosecutors want to know if foreign entities invested into Trump’s inaugural fund, as well as a pro-Trump super PAC, in an attempt to gain influence over the incoming administration.
The investigation is focused on whether people from Middle Eastern countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, disguised donations they made to both funds by using straw donors, the Times reported.
That would be highly illegal, and not the first time something like that popped up with this administration.
Investigators from both New York, as well as special counsel Robert Mueller’s office are looking into the matter.
In particular, there’s an interest in Thomas Barrack Jr., a financier with close ties to Trump, as well as both the inaugural fund, and the super PAC.
“Tom 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,” Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Barrack, told the Times.
The super PAC, Rebuilding America Now, was created in 2016 when Trump’s campaign was cash-strapped and failing to garner funds from major Republican donors, the Times reported. The committee raised $23 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Of note is who recommended Barrack for the role of super PAC money man: Paul Manafort.
Yup. If Manafort recommended him, given what we know about Manafort and his multiple dirty dealings, now, I’d say you just about have to give Barrack the side eye.
Barrack served as chair over the inaugural fund, while Richard Gates, a former partner of Paul Manafort’s, managed it.
Gates, for those of you who get a sense of recognition of the name, has previously been caught up in Mueller’s ongoing Russia probe. He pleaded guilty back in February to conspiracy against the United States, as well as lying to FBI agents.
Trump managed to raise a record $107 million for his inaugural fund. It wasn’t exactly left in the most honest of hands.
Meanwhile, we have to note that investigators are still in the very early stages of all this, and for those who get excited over these sorts of things, you can pull back on the reins. At this point, none of it can be pinned on President Trump or his organization.