Trump com­mit­tee is asked for doc­u­ments

The Tribune (SLO) - - News - BY MAG­GIE HABER­MAN AND BEN PROT­ESS

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee was or­dered Mon­day to turn over doc­u­ments about its donors, fi­nances and ac­tiv­i­ties to fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors in Man­hat­tan, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the com­mit­tee’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

A lawyer work­ing with the in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee re­ceived a sub­poena Mon­day evening seek­ing doc­u­ments re­lated to all of the com­mit­tee’s donors and event at­ten­dees; any ben­e­fits handed out, in­clud­ing tick­ets and photo op­por­tu­ni­ties with the pres­i­dent; fed­eral dis­clo­sure fil­ings; ven­dors; con­tracts; and more, one of the peo­ple said.

Pros­e­cu­tors also showed in­ter­est in whether any for­eign­ers il­le­gally do­nated to the com­mit­tee, as well as whether com­mit­tee staff knew that such do­na­tions were il­le­gal, ask­ing for doc­u­ments lay­ing out le­gal re­quire­ments for do­na­tions. Fed­eral law pro­hibits for­eign con­tri­bu­tions to fed­eral cam­paigns, po­lit­i­cal ac­tion com­mit­tees and in­au­gu­ral funds.

A lawyer for the in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee, Lee Blalack, and a spokesman for the prose­cu­tor’s of­fice did not re­spond to mes­sages seek­ing com­ment. ABC first re­ported that a sub­poena was in the works.

The sub­poena marked an es­ca­la­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which the pros­e­cu­tors opened late last year amid a flurry of scru­tiny of the in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee. The U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice in Brook­lyn is sep­a­rately in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether for­eign­ers il­le­gally fun­neled do­na­tions to Trump’s in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee us­ing so-called straw donors to dis­guise their do­na­tions. Fed­eral law pro­hibits for­eign con­tri­bu­tions to in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tees.

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 can be a crime to know­ingly make false or fraud­u­lent state­ments to a fed­eral agency.

The in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee dis­closed a list of its donors to the FEC, and the pros­e­cu­tors are ex­am­in­ing whether that list is com­plete and ac­cu­rate, the per­son said. If a donor was omit­ted from the re­port, pros­e­cu­tors could take an in­ter­est in that as well.

The in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee was chaired by Thomas J. Bar­rack, a close friend of the pres­i­dent. No one who worked for the com­mit­tee, or do­nated to it, has been ac­cused of wrong­do­ing, and a sub­poena is an ini­tial step in the in­quiry.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­au­gu­ral com­mit­tee grew out of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Michael Co­hen, Trump’s for­mer per­sonal lawyer and fixer. Co­hen is due to be­gin a prison sen­tence next month after plead­ing guilty last year to a range of crimes, in­clud­ing one cam­paign fi­nance-re­lated charge, in which he im­pli­cated the pres­i­dent.

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