While most of the heat and light surrounding the Russia investigation has been focused on whether or not members of the 2016 Trump for president campaign conspired with Russian operatives — (and it certainly appears they did) — it now looks as if the 2016 inauguration is where actual money was transferred as a process of bribing the new administration as they took office.
An explosive report from Vox suggests that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is now taking a close look at money raised for inauguration activities. And that line of inquiry suggests that there’s plenty that needs to be examined:
“Back in April, CNN reported that the special counsel was investigating ‘whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and inauguration’ — and had even questioned some oligarchs directly.
“There have long been serious questions about the money behind Trump’s inauguration — and where, exactly, it went. Trump’s inaugural committee raised a truly astonishing $106.7 million, double the previous record set by Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural. But what they did with it isn’t so clear.”
The line between Russia and the inauguration can be traced through one key person: Paul Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates, who is now cooperating with Mueller. And that means Mueller’s team has an inside look at how the inaugural funds were raised, and who donated them.
One odd fact seems to have caught the attention of Mueller’s investigators: The large number of Russian nationals who were in attendance for the Trump inauguration:
“According to a Washington Post report, counterintelligence officials at the FBI were ‘concerned’ by an unusual presence of politically connected Russians in DC during the event — including some of the exact people who ‘had surfaced in the agency’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.'”
That led to a new front in the Russia probe: Mueller began questioning various witnesses about “millions of dollars in donations to President Donald Trump’s inauguration committee,” especially those from Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar.
But the real question amidst all of this remains: What exactly happened to all the money raised for the inauguration? Since the inaugural committee is considered a non-profit, they aren’t required to provide a line-item breakdown of spending on the requisite tax forms. Experts say there’s no way the Trump team spent over $100 million on the meager inaugural they provided. So again we have to ask what exactly became of the money.
There are suggestions that at least $50 million of the money raised went to a legal defense fund for Trump, who has been under investigation since he took office. And it seems likely that a notoriously cheap bastard like Trump would insist on others footing the bill for his legal expenses.
Wherever the money wound up, rest assured Robert Mueller will find it. And when he does, he’ll have concrete proof that Russia did indeed bribe Donald Trump, meaning he sold his country out for a price.