D.C. Attorney General Subpoenas Trump Inaugural Committee

President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a news conference following the Hanoi Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Feb. 28, 2019. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by SeongJoon Cho.
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D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, a Democrat, has subpoenaed documents from President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee, the latest of several requests from federal and state authorities probing how money was raised and spent for the January 2017 gala.

The subpoena, issued Tuesday, requests documents related to committee payments to the Trump Organization or Trump International Hotel, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. It states that Racine is seeking the documents under his civil authority to ensure that nonprofit groups in the District of Columbia are not “wasteful, mismanaged and/or improperly provided private benefit.”

Racine’s subpoena was first reported by The New York Times.

The subpoena set a deadline of March 29 for the inaugural committee to respond, according to the law enforcement officials. If the committee does not meet that deadline, Racine’s office could file a lawsuit in pursuit of the documents.

A spokesman for the inaugural committee said the committee had received the subpoena and was in touch with Racine’s staff.

Robert Marus, a spokesman for Racine, declined to comment on the case.

Racine has been among the most aggressive Democratic attorneys general challenging the Trump administration. In June 2017, he and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh filed a lawsuit alleging that the president’s ongoing attachments to his businesses violate anti-corruption clauses in the Constitution.

The president’s inaugural committee has been hit with sweeping requests for documents from federal prosecutors in New York and the New Jersey attorney general’s office. Racine’s is the third demand for documents this month.

The committee, which raised and spent more than $100 million on inaugural events – more than twice the amount raised for President Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural events – was headed by real estate developer Tom Barrack, a longtime friend of Trump. Federal Election Commission filings show that contributions came from an array of corporate interests and wealthy Trump supporters.

The U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York indicated in its subpoena that prosecutors are investigating crimes related to conspiracy to defraud the United States, mail fraud, false statements, wire fraud and money laundering.

New York prosecutors appear to be interested, among other things, in foreign contributors to the inaugural committee. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s probe appears to focus on fundraising activities in New Jersey.

Racine’s subpoena suggests his investigation is taking a different track: scrutinizing whether the inaugural committee violated nonprofit regulations by enriching the president’s business interests.

That investigation is civil, not criminal. The attorney general has limited power to prosecute crimes in the District of Columbia, where felony cases are handled by the U.S. attorney’s office.

However, D.C. statutes give Racine broad authority to seek penalties against nonprofit organizations that violate D.C. regulations or act contrary to their purpose, up to and including dissolving those groups.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post · Peter Jamison 



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