Offbeat Donald Trump and the Case of the $107,000,000

06:16  17 may  2018
06:16  17 may  2018 Source:   rollingstone.com

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Rex Features/AP. In his campaign speeches, Donald Trump often derides the political and business system as being “rigged” and controlled by insiders who twist and exploit the rules. But on April 5, 1988, the day the complaint was filed, Trump settled the case . He agreed to pay a 0, 000 fine.

But in the minds of at least some partisan observers, the biggest moment of the day was Trump 's declaration that he "never spoke" to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) about a , 000 donation from the Donald J

donald trump inaugural fund slush: Donald J. Trump preparing for his inauguration on January 20th, 2017.© Win McNamee/POOL/EPA/REX Shutterstock Donald J. Trump preparing for his inauguration on January 20th, 2017.

Donald Trump spent far less on his presidential campaign than Hillary Clinton did, but the eye-popping money surrounding his inauguration weekend raises a few questions. The president’s inaugural committee, which is supposed to be a nonprofit organization, brought in $107 million in donations and used nearly all of it, far exceeding the money spent by Barack Obama in 2009 ($55 million) and in 2013 ($43 million). As has been revealed across several reports stemming from the release of the Trump Inaugural Committee's tax return, the excess of funds may have been used for more than just trying and failing to convince Paul Anka to perform "My Way" at the Inaugural Ball.

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September 2016: Don Jr. appears in a promotional video for gun silencer manufacturer SilencerCo, whose CEO subsequently donates , 000 to the Trump Victory fund. November 8, 2016: Donald Trump is elected the 45th president of the United States.

The case was then dropped, according to a collaborative investigative article published by ProPublica, The New Yorker and WNYC. In 2012, Marc Kasowitz, who had served as Donald Trump ’s attorney for years, donated , 000 to Vance’s reelection campaign.

Interest in the inauguration money was reinvigorated last Friday, when ABC News revealed that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating foreign donations to Trump’s inaugural fund, particularly those coming from individuals with ties to Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Those questioned by investigators – including billionaire Thomas Barrack, who chaired the inaugural committee – were reportedly asked about specific donors, including Andrew Intrater, the CEO of Columbus Nova, one of the companies that paid Michael Cohen's LLC for "consulting" advice in 2017. Columbus Nova is an affiliate of a larger company owned by Intrater's cousin, Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with close ties to Vladimir Putin. Intrater donated $250,000 to Trump's inauguration, and both he and Vekselberg were in attendance, as were several other figures with close ties to Russia.

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Additionally in 2017, Intrater influenced two more gifts to the Trump to circle including a , 000 to Trump Victory, the joint gathering pledges board of trustees for the Trump battle and Republican gathering, in addition to a different ,600 gift specifically to the Republican National Committee

Donald Trump ’s understanding of charity is a little different from most people’s. The Republican nominee hasn’t donated to his own foundation since 2008, according to the Washington Post, which dug deep into the Trump Foundation’s financial history.

On Monday, MSNBC's Ari Melber discussed the news with Steve Kerrigan, the president and CEO of Obama's 2013 inaugural committee. Kerrigan explained that because, unlike with campaign finances, there is very little oversight of inaugural funds, the committee could have been used to funnel money. "They either totally mismanaged the $107 million they raised, or they treated it as it can be treated because of the loose transparency requirements around it: as an opportunity to have a slush fund," Kerrigan explained.

Greg Jenkins, who oversaw George W. Bush's 2005 inaugural committee, was similarly perplexed about how Trump's committee could have spent $107 million on inaugural events. "It’s inexplicable to me," he told ProPublica. "I literally don’t know. They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did. So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know."

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“ Trump and his companies have been involved in a mind-boggling 4, 000 lawsuits over the last 30 years and sent countless threatening cease-and-desist letters to journalists and critics.”

Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr., arrive at the 58th presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., on Jan. Just before the 2012 meeting, Vance’s campaign had returned Kasowitz’s , 000 contribution, in keeping with what Vance describes as standard practice when a donor has a case

Concerns over how the committee's money was used began to gain traction in the summer of 2017, and after the tax return was filed in February, the New York Times reported that the majority of the $107 million was used for overinflated administrative expenses, as well as to pay four separate event-planning firms. One of those firms, WIS Media Partners, was created only six weeks prior to the inauguration by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a close friend of Melania Trump. The firm received close to $26 million from the inaugural committee, and questions have been raised as to how exactly that money was allocated. Craig Holman of the watchdog group Public Citizen, which has investigated how the committee spent its money, told the Times that the committee's use of the donations represented "fiscal mismanagement at its worst."

Kerrigan also noted on MSNBC that in 2009, Obama's inaugural committee paid its entire staff of 450 people a combined $6.5 million, over four times less than the amount received by WIS Media Partners alone. According to the Times, Trump's inaugural committee only employed 208 people.

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“Today’s million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6, 000 victims of his fraudulent university,” Schneiderman said. Trump has previously bragged that he does not settle lawsuits. “I don ’t settle cases .

If porn star Stormy Daniels was looking for a way to air details of her alleged affair with Donald Trump , this week’s lawsuit did the trick. But she may have a tougher time making a legal case that would free her to tell all. Daniels, who accepted 0, 000 under a confidentiality agreement struck with Trump ’s

The plot thickened on Monday, when the Center for Responsive Politics reported that $1 million of the money gifted to the inaugural committee came from conservative legal activists who have since wielded influence over the Trump administration’s process for nominating federal judges. The donation came via a Virginia company called BH Group, LLC, which appears to have been established solely to mask the real source of the money. In addition to their influence over federal judgeships, those connected to the payment were involved in the effort to stall Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, as well as the introduction of Trump to Neil Gorsuch, who was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice last April.

Along with ProPublica, the Center for Responsive Politics found that the sources of several other donations were similarly obfuscated, as well as that two members of the inaugural committee have been convicted of financial crimes, and that the committee's treasurer was reportedly a co-conspirator in an accounting fraud case. Trump's inaugural committee appears to be the first that has been willing to accept donations from dark money groups. In other words, it took full advantage of the lack of transparency referred to by Kerrigan.

It's impossible to know the extent to which influence was peddled and donations were potentially rerouted into the pockets of figures close to Trump. When Trump Inaugural Committee Chairman Thomas Barrack was asked in 2017 what would become of the millions of dollars that was sure to be left over after the cost of the inauguration was taken care of, he insisted that it would be given to charity.

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