The walls keep closing in around the Trump team. As the fallout continues over the revelation that federal authorities are investigating the committee that handled festivities surrounding President Donald Trump’s inauguration, it’s emerged that the committee paid a stunningly high price for event space at Trump’s own D.C. hotel, raising questions of whether the non-profit’s money was illegally used to benefit the Trumps.
The committee paid a $175,000 per day rate for four days, which means they dished out a total of some $700,000. It’s previously come out that they paid a grand total of $1.5 million to the Trump International Hotel, and the confirmation of the daily rate they paid makes the situation that much more grim.
That cash flowed into the Trump’s coffers despite behind-the-scenes objections from Stephanie Winston Wolkoff at the time, who besides being a friend of First Lady Melania Trump worked on event planning for inauguration festivities — which she was paid generously for. She asserted that the suggested $175,000 a day rate could raise red flags and those involved should likely settle on something much lower, setting her ultimately ignored proposal at $85,000 a day. As she pointed out added to the suspicious nature, other interests were offering up significant donations of event space for the inauguration festivities, making the Trump Organization requiring payment that much more out of the ordinary.
Experts including D.C. event planner Ari Krupkin and attorney Brett Kappel decried the committee’s behavior. Krupkin said the rate they paid seems “more than egregious,” while Kappel added that it very well could be a tax law violation — which could incur criminal penalties if investigators determine those involved consciously sidestepped legal requirements.
Ivanka Trump was on the email chain in which Wolkoff raised her concerns, but she didn’t apparently seek to address them in any fashion, instead simply connecting then-deputy committee chairman Rick Gates with a hotel executive. Gates has since been charged with numerous federal crimes that he’s pleaded guilty to in connection to years of secretive lobbying work he completed alongside former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
The question still to be determined now that it’s been confirmed that the inauguration committee paid a steep rate is whether that matches the market rate at the time. If it doesn’t, then those involved could be guilty of self-dealing — which the Trumps have already been nailed for in the past.
Trump used funds from his charitable foundation for a variety of personal expenses, ranging from what’s been cast as a bribe to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to the cost of a painting of the eventual president. He — and his three most prominent adult children, including Ivanka — are currently facing a lawsuit from the New York Attorney General, who’s seeking to recover millions of dollars besides having already pressured the Trump Foundation into closing.
This time around, it’s federal authorities looking at similar allegations against the Trumps. Early this past week, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan slapped the Trump inaugural committee with a subpoena, seeking a wide range of documents covering everything from potential benefits donors got to where those donors’ money actually came from.
The committee ended up dealing with the most money of any presidential inaugural committee in modern American history, doubling the previous record set at the time of Barack Obama’s first swearing-in.
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