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Trump inaugural committee suspected of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and money laundering, subpoena indicates

Tom Embury-Dennis
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Donald Trump’s inaugural committee has received a subpoena for documents from prosecutors, who are reportedly probing the group for crimes including conspiracy to defraud the US, mail fraud, false statements and money laundering.

“We have just received a subpoena for documents. While we are still reviewing the subpoena, it is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry,” a spokesperson for the committee said in a statement.

The writ for documents was issued on Monday by the Manhattan US attorney’s office, just weeks after it emerged the nonprofit organisation was under investigation over alleged misspending of the $107m (£82m) it had raised from donors.

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The investigation is reportedly examining whether some of the committee’s donors gave money in exchange for policy concessions, influencing administration positions or access to the incoming administration.

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Prosecutors also showed interest in whether any foreigners illegally donated to the committee, The New York Times reported.

Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to inaugural funds.

The subpoena seeks a range of documents from the committee, including all information related to donors, vendors, contractors, committee bank accounts and any foreign contributors to the fund, according to a copy seen by The Washington Post.

It also asks for specific information about benefits provided to donors, training documents for fundraisers and payments made directly by donors to vendors.

Although campaign finance laws restrict the size of campaign contributions, inaugurations can accept unlimited donations, including from corporations.

The $107m raised by Mr Trump’s inaugural committee, chaired by real estate developer and investor Thomas Barrack, was the largest in history and more than twice as much as that raised for Barack Obama’s assumption of office in 2009, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Donations were made by a range of wealthy supporters of the president and corporate interests.

The committee’s inaugural spending has been shrouded in controversy after it failed to account for as much as $42m (£32m) in spending.

How Mr Trump’s inaugural committee’s costs rose to $100m – despite throwing fewer events than Mr Obama’s team, and hosting them in largely the same venues – is difficult to explain, even taking into account the $700,000 organisers spent on entertainment and the $1m lawn coverings Mr Trump later blamed for making his crowd look small.

A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It comes as the president’s homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, agreed to testify next month before a house panel on the Trump administration’s border security policies.

“She should be ready to defend the administration’s border security actions and its plans to improve its border security agenda going forward,” Bennie Thompson, chair of the homeland security committee, said.

It follows days of wrangling by Ms Nielsen and house Democrats over her appearance in congress.

Additional reporting by Reuters