New Jersey Announces Trump Inauguration Investigation & It’s Bad


In an unprecedented turn of events, there are at least three separate probes underway into the Trump inauguration, including from federal prosecutors in New York City and authorities in both D.C. and New Jersey, where details of the investigation are now emerging — and they’re troubling, to say the least. In the state, Trump fundraising efforts that are under investigation by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal were apparently led in large part by two individuals — Lewis Eisenberg and Woody Johnson, who “only” raised about $550,000, a comparatively small amount in the grand scheme of things, but now serve as U.S. ambassadors to Italy and the United Kingdom, respectively.

A State Department spokesman says that:

‘These ambassadors’ financial contributions have long been a matter of public record. They are honored the president bestowed this trust upon them and they hold their service in the highest regard.’

Their roles might have been publicly available for ages, but it’s only now that it’s emerged that Grewal is investigating how and where funds were collected from the state for the inauguration and has apparently roped in two sitting U.S. ambassadors in the process.

Both Eisenberg and Johnson “helped pinpoint potential large donors, both individuals and corporations, for contributions,” according to two individuals with knowledge of what went on. They both held official roles on the presidential inaugural committee in question, too; Eisenberg served as a finance co-chair while Johnson was a finance vice chair.

Grewal’s team has already begun receiving documents from the committee, or what’s left of it at least, in their apparent effort to uncover any fraud. Unlike elsewhere, they have not named any particular individuals or organizations that they’re targeting. Federal prosecutors in New York named former Democratic donor Imaad Zuberi among those they’re after information on in their wide sweep for potential fraud and corruption involving foreign donations. In New York alone, the Trump inaugural committee raised a whopping $19 million, which is a significant portion of the total $107 million that Trump’s team brought in for the costliest presidential inauguration in modern American history. It was double the previous record set by Barack Obama’s first swearing-in.

In multiple cases, that money either came from or went to questionable at best interests. For instance, a whopping $1.5 million went to the Trump Organization’s own D.C. hotel, even after a top adviser to the inaugural committee suggested charging high rates could be legally questionable self-dealing. The money came from individuals who in New Jersey at least, told The Daily Beast that they expected to be welcomed to the inaugural ball and by Trump himself thanks to their donations.

Two individuals told The Daily Beast they didn’t believe foreign money concerns that had popped up elsewhere were relevant to the inaugural committee’s New Jersey operations, but Grewal’s investigation is continuing all the same. Elsewhere, there’s already been the revelation of $50,000 illegally funneled to the organization to pay for tickets for a Ukrainian oligarch, and there could be more revelations along these lines, even as Trump continues to beat the drum of supposed complete illegitimacy to any and all investigations of foreign ties to his team.

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