Federal prosecutors seek documents on Trump inauguration ceremony

Investigators want more information on donors, foreign contributions, vendors, bank accounts and contractors.

    The amount raised by Trump's inaugural committee, $107m, was the largest in US history [Brian Snyder/Reuters]
    The amount raised by Trump's inaugural committee, $107m, was the largest in US history [Brian Snyder/Reuters]

    Federal prosecutors in the state of New York are seeking information and documents regarding US President Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony.

    The subpoena was issued by the US attorney's office in Manhattan and requires the committee to turn over requested documents related to the January 20, 2017 event.

    According to the subpoena, investigators want more information on bank accounts related to the inauguration ceremony, donors, foreign contributions, vendors and contractors, US media reported on Tuesday.

    By US law, only its citizens and legal residents are allowed to donate to inauguration ceremonies.

    "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 inauguration told ABC News, which first reported the news. 

    The subpoena is specifically looking at communication between the inauguration committee and Los Angeles venture capitalist named Imaad Zuberi as well as the firm with which he is affiliated, Avenue Ventures.

    The firm allegedly donated around $900,000 to the ceremony, the Washington Post revealed in separate reporting on the matter.

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    A spokesperson for Zuberi, who was asked about any foreign connection to the donation, said the money was Zuberi's personal money and that there was no foreign connection.

    The $107m raised by Trump's inaugural committee, chaired by real estate developer and investor Thomas Barrack, was the largest in history, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

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    Barrack did not respond to Tuesday's subpoena.

    The investigation into the inauguration was first revealed by the Wall Street Journal in December.

    The publication said the investigation into the inaugural committee partly stemmed from materials seized in a probe into the dealings of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who was sentenced in December to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating the hush payments in violation of campaign laws. 

    The committee's activities have previously been mentioned in court by Rick Gates, who served as its deputy chairman and testified it was possible he may have stolen money from it through fake expense reports. 

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    Gates has agreed to a plea deal with Robert Mueller, the special counsel leading the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, though it is not clear whether the committee's activities are still being scrutinised in connection with that probe.

    The probe into the inaugural committee comes as the president and his White House are already facing investigations into the Trump campaign's contacts with Russia, hush-money payments to women claiming to have had affairs with Trump and spending by Trump's foundation, among other issues.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies