Trump Under (Another) Criminal Investigation For Using Inauguration Funds In Pay-To-Play Scheme

Another day, another investigation of potentially criminal activity on the part of the president of the United States.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump’s inaugural committee is being investigated for misspending some of the $107 million it raised in 2017 as part of a massive pay-to-play scheme.

The Journal notes that many of the highest donors were giving money to the committee to have greater access to the president and even influence policymaking once he took office.

In other words, Trump was selling his presidency to the highest bidder.

“The criminal probe by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, which is in its early stages, also is examining whether some of the committee’s top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions, some of the people said,” the report said.

Misusing the funds could violate multiple federal laws, as The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday:

Giving money in exchange for political favors could run afoul of federal corruption laws. Diverting funds from the organization, which was registered as a nonprofit, could also violate federal law.

The investigation represents another potential legal threat to people who are or were in Mr. Trump’s orbit. Their business dealings and activities during and since the campaign have led to a number of indictments and guilty pleas. Many of the president’s biggest campaign backers were involved in the inaugural fund.

The investigation partly arises out of materials seized in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s business dealings, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Mueller has also probed whether any foreign money flowed to the inaugural fund, which is prohibited from accepting foreign funds. In August, the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, on a referral from Mr. Mueller, obtained a guilty plea from a Washington consultant who admitted he used a U.S. citizen to serve as a “straw purchaser” so that a “prominent Ukraine oligarch” could attend the inauguration. The names were never disclosed.

Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell reacted to the reporting on Thursday, saying that it’s just another indication that Trump “presided over a criminal campaign, a criminal transition and continues to preside over a criminal presidency.”

Michael Cohen is the gift that keeps on giving

While Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison this week, today’s report from the Wall Street Journal is the latest indication that the information Cohen handed over to investigators will be valuable for months to come in a number of investigations.

From Russia collusion to campaign finance violations to the president’s shady business dealings, Michael Cohen is the gift that keeps on giving for investigators. The skeletons he kept hidden for Trump are not in the hands of federal investigators.

After spending over a decade as the president’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen is on the verge of bringing Donald Trump’s entire presidency down.

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