Trump Inauguration Committee Under Criminal Investigation Over Spending

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The criminal probe is also looking into whether some of the committee's top spenders traded money for access to the incoming Trump administration, as well as "policy concessions or to influence official administration positions", sources told the Journal.

It read: "The (committee) is not aware of any pending investigations and has not been contacted by any prosecutors".

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News' "The Story with Martha MacCallum" Thursday that the matter "didn't have anything to do with the president" or the first lady.

Those materials included a recording that had Cohen speaking to ex-Melania Trump advisor Stephanie Winston Woloff, in which they discussed how the inaugural committee's money was being spent.

The Journal reported that prosecutors enlisted Rick Gates, Trump's onetime deputy campaign manager and deputy chairman of the inaugural committee, to provide information about the inaugural fund's spending and donors. "We can assume that pattern may have held when he was in that period when he was the president-elect into the time after his inauguration". The paper, citing people familiar with the inquiry, said it focuses on people from Middle Eastern countries - including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - and whether they "used straw donors to disguise their donations to the two funds".

She was an unpaid adviser to the first lady.

On Wednesday, Cohen was sentenced to three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress about Trump's past business dealings in Russian Federation.

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One key name is tied to both bodies: Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire and Trump friend who raised money for the inaugural committee and for the super PAC.

The inauguration paid the Trump Organization for rooms, meals and event space at the company's Washington hotel, according to interviews as well as internal emails and receipts reviewed by WNYC and ProPublica.

"All of these issues regarding campaign finance have got to be seen along with this alleged investigation into misuse of inauguration funds", said Hanna.

The Journal also reported that prosecutors have requested documents from a Tennessee developer relating to a $1 million contribution he made to the inaugural committee in December 2016.

Attorneys for Haney and Cohen declined to comment. To that point, New York Jets co-owner Robert "Woody" Johnson, who reportedly attended Trump's 2005 wedding to Melania Knavs, has spoken glowingly about Trump-going so far as to say he's raising his two sons to become "just like Donald Trump". Earlier this year, Gates pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy against the USA and one count of making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Gulf states have vied for access to Trump's inner circle and influence in Washington since the business tycoon's unorthodox and ultimately successful bid for the presidency started to gain momentum in early 2016.

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