Trump inaugural committee under criminal investigation for misuse of funds, pay to play: report

President Donald Trump's inaugural committee is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan for pay to play and misspending some of the $107 million it raised from donations, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The probe was launched by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan, the paper said, citing people familiar with the investigation.

The investigation, which is reportedly in its early stages, is looking into whether some of the committee's top donors gave money to gain access to the incoming Trump administration to influence policy positions, which could be a violation of anti-corruption laws.

The Journal reported that the investigation began in part after federal agents seized materials from Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who was sentenced on Wednesday to three years in federal prison for unrelated crimes.

NBC News has not independently verified the Journal report.

Scenes from the crowd at inauguration
See Gallery
Scenes from the crowd at inauguration
Cheerful member of the crowd #inauguration
Crowds are already stacking up in the standing area outside the Capitol #Inauguration
When the band started playing a particular song these service men and women stopped and saluted #Inauguration
People everywhere in the crowd taking selfies as they arrive at the National Mall (AOL/Torrey AndersonSchoepe)
The Capitol just before sunrise (AOL/Torrey AndersonSchoepe)
The Capitol decked out and ready for inauguration (AOL/Torrey AndersonSchoepe)
Cute alert! Adorable service dogs in the crowd at #inauguration
Crowd erupts into cheers as George W. and Laura Bush arrive at the Capitol #Inauguration
Crowd cheers as Melania makes her entrance in an eye-catching light blue coat #Inauguration
Crowd erupts into cheers after Trump says we will "buy American and hire Americans" #Inauguration
The crowd and the big screen at inauguration (AOL/Torrey AndersonSchoepe)
"When you open your heart to patriotism there is no room for prejudice" #inauguration
Patriotic flair at #inauguration
A member of the military stands at a road block with a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. (AOL/Torrey AndersonSchoepe)
Military man salutes during the national anthem #Inauguration

FBI agents raided Cohen's office and hotel room in April seeking information about a payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claimed she had an affair with Trump, shortly before the 2016 election.

During that raid, FBI agents seized a recorded conversation between Cohen and Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former adviser to first lady Melania Trump, who worked on events for the inaugural committee, the paper reported.

On the recording, Wolkoff reportedly raised concerns about how the committee was spending money.

The paper reported that it could not determine when the conversation took place or why it was recorded, but said it in the possession of federal prosecutors in Manhattan.

In public tax filings, the committee identified vendors accounting for $61 million of the $103 million it spent, according to the Journal. The committee is required to publicly disclose its top five vendors as a nonprofit organization.

Federal Election Commission records show that donors included casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, AT&T and Boeing, all of whom gave $1 million or more. But the Journal reported that there is no sign that those donors are under investigation.

Read Full Story