Trump’s inaugural committee just got roped into a major federal bribery probe

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A new federal bribery investigation into Trump’s inaugural committee by prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) has just been revealed.

Former Republican National Committee finance co-chair Elliot Broidy is suspected of using his position planning Trump’s big party in January 2017 to facilitate an international bribery ring.

It wouldn’t be the first time that Broidy is suspected of bribing a public official since he was convicted of a felony doing just that with the New York State Comptroller ten years ago, a man who Trump also paid off with political cash in order to get tax breaks.

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Now, the AP has revealed that the EDNY’s dragnet is reaching officials around the globe in the second known criminal probe of Trump’s dark money party fund. The AP reports:

A wide-ranging subpoena the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn recently sent to Trump’s inaugural committee seeks records relating to 20 individuals and businesses. All have connections to Broidy, his investment and defense contracting firms, and foreign officials he pursued deals with — including the current president of Angola and two politicians in Romania.

Prosecutors appear to be investigating whether Broidy exploited his access to Trump for personal gain and violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for U.S. citizens to offer foreign officials “anything of value” to gain a business advantage. Things of value in this case could have been an invitation to the January 2017 inaugural events or access to Trump.

“I’m not surprised. Their entire Inaugural committee has been set up to be a criminal enterprise. What will be shocking is, if no one goes to jail on corruption charges for their role in the inaugural,” President Obama’s former Inaugural Committee CEO Steve Kerrigan told the Washington Press. “Inaugurals should be a celebration of the peaceful transition of power, and all Donald Trump did with his, was work to pad the pockets of his friends and their businesses.”

“It’s a horrible abuse of power,” added Kerrigan, who is a veteran of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.

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According to CBS News, the inaugural fund complied with an EDNY document subpoena in April, and the FBI has interviewed at least one of the witnesses in the case.

Elliot Broidy was a close associate of convicted former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and one of his only three clients. Like Trump, Broidy used Cohen’s services to facilitate a hush money payoff to a pregnant Playboy playmate. Broidy stopped paying the model, and she’s now suing him to recover the $1.6 million he promised her.

Last August, the Post revealed that he was under another federal investigation by the Department of Justice in Washington.

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Then, Broidy’s offices were raided by federal agents in March 2018, looking for evidence of illegal foreign lobbying.

And to top it all off, Elliot Broidy is suspected of participating in a money laundering scheme with the Malaysian finance company 1MDB, who funded the “Wolf of Wall Street” movie. That Oscar-nominated movie’s producer just got criminally charged for money laundering.

There is also another investigation into Trump’s inaugural committee that was revealed in December 2018 by Southern District of New York prosecutors. Presumably, it’s an offshoot of the Mueller probe, which referred out the many potential crimes it examined. SDNY’s investigation led to a criminal subpoena for all of the Trump Inaugural guest lists.

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Even former campaign manager Paul Manafort got involved in bribery operations and the Trump Inaugural committee’s scams.

He dangled favors to commit massive mortgage fraud, which recently led to a bank CEO’s arrest on bribery charges after Manafort offered up the job as Secretary of the Army during the transition period. Manafort was convicted on one count of mortgage fraud in a Virginia federal court last year and is facing a new trial on state financial crimes in New York, which prosecutors say that he has already confessed to committing.

But during Manafort’s trial, his former partner who just so happens to also be the Trump Inaugural committee’s deputy chairman, Rick Gates – who is a high profile cooperating witness now – testified in his August 2018 trial about yet another spending mystery from that party fund.

Donald Trump is said to have been horrified that he won the 2016 presidential election, but that didn’t stop him and his team from attempting to embezzle every nickel and dime in sight, even if that meant betraying the public trust before he even took office.

The existence of yet another federal criminal probe into the same entity whose deputy chair is already a convicted felon is a Sword of Damocles dangling over the head of both Donald Trump and the RNC, who gave Elliot Broidy one of its highest positions.

Original reporting by Jim Mustian and Desmond Butler at the Associated Press.

Follow Grant Stern on Twitter @grantstern and check out his first book, Meet the Candidates 2020: Elizabeth Warren and Meet the Candidates 2020: Kamala Harris is on sale today, as part of his Meet the Candidates 2020 Series.

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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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