President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee received a subpoena on Monday as part of a far-reaching probe into whether the committee committed any crimes when it raised and spent more than $100 million for the president’s 2017 inauguration festivities.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told CNN on Tuesday morning that the subpoena was unrelated to the Trump White House — a frequent line of defense from administration officials attempting to downplay news developments about the web of investigations related to Trump’s associates and activities.
“There is so much hatred out there that they will look for anything to try to create and tie problems to this president,” Huckabee Sanders said.
Federal prosecutors from New York are investigating whether the inauguration committee committed conspiracy against the United States, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, inaugural committee disclosure violations, or made false statements, according to the Wall Street Journal. They’re also examining whether it illegally received contributions by foreign nationals and contributions made in the name of another person.
The subpoena is reportedly forcing the committee to turn over documents related to essentially all of its donors, donations, and attendees at its events. The committee will also provide documents related to its communications with Imaad Zuberi, a Los Angeles-based financier who once registered as a foreign agent on behalf of the Sri Lankan government and donated $900,000 to the committee through his private-equity firm, Avenue Ventures LLC, the Wall Street Journal reported. Zuberi is the only individual who is specifically named in the subpoena.
Richard Gates, the fund’s deputy chairman, asked several vendors weeks before the inauguration if they wanted to accept payments directly from donors or through other channels outside the inauguration committee, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In addition to questions about the inauguration committee, Trump’s other activities are under scrutiny in several separate investigations.
Federal prosecutors are also looking into Trump’s private businesses and whether members of his campaign and cabinet committed crimes, including colluding with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The president’s behavior during the special counsel’s investigation into potential collusion has also raised a line of inquiry about whether the president may have obstructed justice.
The investigations into the inauguration committee are also linked into Trump’s business interests because one of the lines of inquiry is related to whether Trump enriched himself by using the Trump Hotel International in Washington, D.C., a posh hotel in between the White House and Capitol Hill.
Prior to the subpoenas issued this week, federal prosecutors had been looking into potential financial abuses committed by the inauguration committee, including how it spent funds benefiting the Trump International Hotel, according to ProPublica and WNYC. During the months after the inauguration, a Saudi-based veterans group booked around 500 nights at the new Trump International, the Washington Post previously reported.