Trump committee is asked for documents
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.