In an unprecedented development among the many other issues continuing to face the Trump team, President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee remains under investigation by at least three different authorities, including federal prosecutors based in New York. The Palm Beach Post has now revealed some of what they might be interested in, explaining how a gala held to commemorate Trump’s inauguration raked in tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars from questionable at best foreign sources and the money was transmitted to an undisclosed bank account. The National Committee of Asian American Republicans was required to file financial disclosures with the Federal Election Commission thanks to their status as a registered political committee, but they took no such steps covering their gala.
The money, according to information that is available, came from sources like a casino in the Northern Mariana Islands run by a Chinese company that was eventually raided by the FBI and saw its contractors charged with illegally employing workers who’d arrived there on tourist visas. Some of those workers had been injured and at least one was killed, sparking the federal inquiry into what was going on. (The island chain is a U.S. territory off the coast of eastern Asia.) Concurrently, that Imperial Pacific International casino has been suspected of money laundering because of the sheer volume of cash that’s flowed through it, no matter its isolated location.
The company actually ended up benefiting from the work of one of those who handled their donations, former Trump campaign aide Jason Osborne. Following the early 2017 gala, he successfully lobbied for new legislation expanding the number of visa waivers available to companies operating in the Pacific Islands. Besides Imperial Pacific, at least four other companies that helped sponsor the early 2017 gala stood to benefit from the legislation that Osborne helped push through. Their operations ranged from Saipan in the Northern Mariana Islands to Guam to South Florida.
So where did the money go that Osborne helped handle for the gala? Was it a liner for some lobbyists’ pocket? Was it a money laundering operation? The FEC confirmed that the committee responsible for the event did not file disclosures including any of the donations related to the event.
The committee’s executive director Zhonggang “Cliff” Li told The Post that he knew where the money went but “didn’t want” to reveal the information, taking the opportunity to attack the paper and the media at-large for recent reporting on Chinese attempts to meddle in the American political scene. There were a number of Chinese nationals in attendance at the gala his organization held for Trump’s inauguration, and donations from foreigners to American political committees are strictly prohibited.
Li is actually an associate of the now infamous “Cindy” Yang, who at one point served as the head of fundraising for Li’s committee. After selling the day spa at which New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft eventually solicited prostitution, she jumped into politics, offering Chinese businesspeople the opportunity to get close to the Trump family through a public relations service. She was repeatedly successful, available documentation shows, and Congressional Democrats have pushed for a federal investigation into the influence peddling.
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