Prosecutors just blindsided Trump’s inaugural committee with a laundry list of criminal accusations

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Federal prosecutors just took a major step in their investigation of the Trump inaugural committee’s record-breaking haul of dark money and corrupt cash.

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Lawyers for the Southern District of New York’s (SDNY) US Attorney’s office delivered a formal records subpoena to Trump’s beleaguered inaugural committee, seeking more information about foreign donations and what may have been promised en route to raking in a staggering $106.7 million dollars.

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This means that not one but two US Attorney’s offices are looking into the Committee in addition to Special Counsel Mueller.

Prosecutors in New York’s Southern District have subpoenaed documents from President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee, sources with direct knowledge told ABC News…

Prosecutors are also seeking attendees to the events surrounding the inauguration including benefits to top level donors such as photo opportunities with President Trump, sources said.

CNN reporter Shimon Prokupecz’s reporting indicates that the matter is advanced, since SDNY prosecutors issued the demand for records from a grand jury, and the list of prospective federal crimes they listed is very expansive.

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The former US Attorney in charge of SDNY who was appointed by President Obama and served for months under President Trump weighed in on the news with a simple, but viral tweet.

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https://twitter.com/PreetBharara/status/1092620428336680960

Suspicious payments to the Trump inaugural committee first surfaced in April 2017 after the American subsidiary of the Venezuelan state-owned oil company gave a massive donation.

Last February, after an extremely long delay in reporting anything about the record-breaking $107 million dollar inaugural, the committee admitted paying $26 million to a company owned by one of Melania Trump’s close friends, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who had created the company just six weeks before the inauguration.

The Special Counsel’s search warrant-permitted raid on convicted former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen last April yielded a recording with her close associate and the New York Times reports that it became the genesis of the Inaugural Committee investigation:

In raids of Mr. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room in April, F.B.I. agents seized his cellphones, which included nearly 200 voice recordings…

[In one recording,] Mr. Cohen spoke to Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who was a top official on the inaugural committee.

Ms. Winston Wolkoff was fired as an adviser to the first lady, Melania Trump, in early 2018, after the inaugural committee released its financial disclosures

ABC also broke the news last May that Special Counsel Mueller is looking into potential Russian, Qatari, Saudi, and UAE money and people flowing into the inaugural.

At this point, there are so many agencies are investigating the Trump Inaugural – whose Deputy Chairman Rick Gates is a convicted felon cooperating with prosecutors – that the Times also reports prosecutors are also looking into punishing a cover-up:

As part of their inquiry, prosecutors in Manhattan have pursued the possibility that the inaugural committee made false statements to the Federal Election Commission, according to people familiar with the matter.

It’s a crime to intentionally lie to a federal agency or investigation.

Last month, Mueller’s prosecutors delayed sentencing for Gates, indicating that his cooperation and testimony in more matters is needed, just like it was at Paul Manafort’s money laundering and financial crimes trial in federal court, which ended in a conviction.

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Even last year, President Trump viewed the New York investigation as a greater threat than even the Mueller probe since the raid on Cohen, which is probably because of the faster pace of SDNY’s work which is from a far larger team than Special Counsel Mueller and deals with less national security-related evidence.

SDNY prosecutors are also known for their independence and the worldwide reach of the cases they bring to justice.

Now, Trump, his family, and his closest associates are caught in the grasp of these fearsome federal prosecutors who are hot on the trail of exposing a corruption scheme so brazen, it converted electoral victory into dark money in plain sight before the candidate even held his first public elected office.

It appears that Donald Trump can’t even throw a party without committing an array of serious federal crimes, just like he can’t stop lying about the pathetically small size of the crowd who showed up to watch America’s worst President take the oath of office, which he has casually broken ever since.

Original reporting by John Santucci and Josh Margolin at ABC News.

Grant Stern

Editor at Large

Grant Stern is a columnist for the Washington Press. He's also mortgage broker, writer, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida.

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