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Trump's Inaugural Committee Says It Intends To Cooperate With Federal Prosecutors


President Trump's inaugural committee says it intends to cooperate with an inquiry launched by federal prosecutors in New York. ABC News first reported on this sweeping subpoena. The prosecutors are seeking documents on how the committee raised its money, from whom it got the money and how it spent the money. NPR's Peter Overby reports.

PETER OVERBY, BYLINE: The events surrounding President Trump's swearing in weren't that numerous compared to other recent inaugurations, and the attendance was down.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: This started out tonight being a small little concert.

OVERBY: President-elect Trump was speaking to the moderately sized crowd at an outdoor concert the night before the big day.


TRUMP: I don't know if it's ever been done before, but if it has, very seldom. And the people came by the thousands and thousands. And here we are tonight.

GREG JENKINS: The sort of head scratcher for me was that they raised so much money and evidently spent it on so much less than we did or President Obama did.

OVERBY: Greg Jenkins was executive director of President George W. Bush's 2005 inaugural committee.

JENKINS: For less than half the amount of money that The Trump Organization raised, the Bush inaugural put on four times as many events and hired three times as many staff.

OVERBY: Trump's inaugural committee raised more than twice as much as the previous record holder, the first inaugural committee of President Barack Obama. A month after the swearing in, the Trump inaugural committee said it had raised just $107 million, gave 5 million to charity and had less than 3 million left. Again, Greg Jenkins.

JENKINS: To have spent $107 million on what they did is extraordinarily bad business. I just can't imagine spending - I wouldn't know how to spend that amount of money.

OVERBY: Legal problems at the committee have already been coming to light. Last summer, a Washington lobbyist named Sam Patten pleaded guilty to funneling an illegal contribution of $50,000 from a Ukrainian oligarch. The subpoena also specifically names, but doesn't charge, a single donor - a Los Angeles businessman and investor named Imaad Zuberi. Zuberi had been a generous donor to Democrats, but after Trump won, he gave $900,000 to the inaugural committee to get access to the inaugural events. That's according to his spokesman, Steve Rabinowitz.

There have been suggestions that Zuberi had connections to a Qatari delegation that met with Trump campaign officials before the inauguration. Rabinowitz said there is no connection. He also said the government hasn't told Zuberi why he's named. Marcus Owens, a tax attorney and former IRS official, said there could be questions too about the committee's tax exempt status and its compliance with tax laws.

MARCUS OWENS: There may well be other issues that are not apparent on the surface. There are some serious issues facing this organization.

OVERBY: The inaugural committee's chairman, Trump friend Tom Barrack, declined to comment for this story. Peter Overby, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Overby has covered Washington power, money, and influence since a foresighted NPR editor created the beat in 1994.