Federal prosecutors probing Trump inauguration spending

President Donald J. Trump and First lady Melania Trump wave to the crowd

Trump Inauguration Committee Under Criminal Investigation Over Spending: Report

President Donald Trump's 2017 inaugural committee is being investigated by federal prosecutors in NY over allegations that it misspent funds or accepted donations in exchange for access to his administration, according to a media report.

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. Prosecutors also are looking into whether donors to the inaugural fund gave money in hopes of gaining access to the administration or influence over policy or administration positions, which the Journal notes is illegal.

"This didn't have anything to do with the President, he was focused on the transition and building out a new government and preparing to take office", Sanders told Fox News Thursday night.

The event-planning business of Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former unpaid adviser to Melania Trump, was the highest-paid vendor to the committee at $25.8m, the Journal reported.

The Journal's sources say the investigation was prompted in part by materials obtained in the federal probe of Michael Cohen, Trump's legal "fixer" who has since flipped on his former top client. Moreover, the inauguration's accounting was provided both to the Federal Election Commission and the IRS in compliance with all laws and regulations. "The role that the President had in the inauguration was to raise his hand and take the oath".

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In a statement, the inaugural committee said it was "not aware of any pending investigations and has not been contacted by any prosecutors". Earlier this year, Gates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the US and one count of making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. In the recording, Ms. Wolkoff expressed concern about how the inaugural committee was spending money, according to a person familiar with the Cohen investigation.

Committee head Thomas Barrack Jr. has said that an external audit of the committee's finances was performed, according to the WSJ, but that audit has not been made available.

The investigation is yet another threat to Trump's presidency, amid continuing investigations from Muller and the State's Attorney's Office of the Southern District of New York (SDNY).

Mueller is also probing whether any foreign cash flowed to the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign funds.

The mounting evidence places him increasingly at the center of campaign finance violations that have already led to prison time for Cohen.

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