Reports: Prosecutors probe Trump inaugural committee

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors are reportedly investigating the finances of President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee and whether foreigners contributed to its events using straw donors.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that prosecutors in New York are investigating whether some of the committee’s donors made contributions in exchange for political favors and access to the Trump administration– a potential violation of federal corruption laws. The inquiry, which the newspaper said is in its early stages, is also focused on whether the inauguration committee misspent some of the $107 million it raised to stage events celebrating Trump’s inauguration.

The New York Times reported that prosecutors are examining whether people from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries made illegal payments to the committee and a pro-Trump super political action committee in a bid to influence American policy. Foreign contributions to inaugural funds and PACs are prohibited under federal law.

Both newspapers cited anonymous sources familiar with the inquiry.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The inaugural committee said it has not been contacted by federal prosecutors and is not aware of any investigations.

The committee “staged a celebration of our democratic processes and did so in full compliance with all applicable laws and disclosure obligations,” it said Friday in a statement to The Associated Press.

“The inauguration’s accounting was provided both to the Federal Election Commission and the IRS in compliance with all laws and regulations,” it said. “These were funds raised from private individuals and were then spent in accordance with the law and the expectations of the donors.”

It added that the names of donors were given to the election commission and have been public for nearly two years. It said the donors were vetted and no improprieties were found.

ProPublica and the New York public radio station WNYC also reported new details Friday on how Trump profited from the inauguration, with the committee paying for rooms and event space at his Washington D.C. Hotel.