The alleged investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office into the record $107 million raised for the inauguration includes probes into whether the committee’s biggest donors gave money in exchange for access to Trump’s administration or political influence, some of the sources said.
CNN later confirmed the report.
Such misspending by the committee, which was registered as a nonprofit, could constitute a violation of federal corruption laws. If true, it marks the latest legal probe into whether members of Trump’s inner circle may have inappropriately spent money associated with his campaign.
The reported investigation arose in part from materials that federal prosecutors seized in April when it raided the home of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who was just sentenced to three years for lying to Congress and violating campaign finance laws during Trump’s 2016 campaign when he coordinated payoffs to two women who had alleged affairs with Trump.
A source who spoke with the Journal said that during the Cohen raid, FBI officials obtained a recorded conversation between him and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to Melania Trump who also worked on inaugural events. In it, she expressed concern about the committee’s spending, the Journal reported.
A lawyer close to the matter denied knowledge of the probe.
“We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists,” the lawyer told the Journal.
Thursday’s report follows an ABC News story in May that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which is investigating possible misconduct by the Trump campaign, had interviewed multiple witnesses about donations to the inauguration committee. Many of the questions regarded donors with connections to Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, sources close to the situation told the network.