- The Washington Times - Friday, December 14, 2018

The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office opened an investigation into whether President Trump’s 2017 inauguration committee misspent some of the $107 million sent in as donations, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The probe is also looking to find if any of the top donors gave money in order to have access to and influence over the Trump administration’s positions and policies, unnamed sources told The Journal.

According to The Journal, the probe was launched because of information found by the federal investigation into Michael Cohen’s business activities.

An audio recording, found in one of the FBI raids of Cohen’s office earlier this year, captured a conversation between the president’s former “fixer” and former first lady advisor Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, who reportedly seemed worried about the committee’s spending.

An unnamed lawyer “close to the matter” told The Journal that the committee has not been contacted by prosecutors yet, and said, “We are not aware of any evidence the investigation the Journal is reporting actually exists.”

The Journal did report that Richard Gates, former inaugural committee deputy chairman, and Franklin L. Haney, a top donor, were contacted about the investigation.

Deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley called the report “ridiculous,” and argued that the investigation is completely unrelated to the president or the administration.

“On inauguration night everyone knows the President of the United States has one task: To show up, thank everyone for their service to help him get elected, and dance with the First Lady,” Mr. Hogan said on Fox News Friday.

• Gabriella Muñoz can be reached at gmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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