In an unprecedented development, the committee behind Donald Trump’s inauguration has been slapped with at least three separate investigations stretching from the federal Southern District of New York (SDNY) to state authorities in New Jersey. Now, POLITICO is reporting on a new side effect of the fallout from those investigations. According to unnamed inside sources, Trump has disconnected from his longtime friend Tom Barrack, who chaired the inauguration committee, to the point that the two are no longer speaking. The two have been in and out of each other’s very personal lives for decades — but that’s apparently no longer the case under the weight of the egotism driving Trump’s presidency.
In the early days of Trump’s presidency, the president and Barrack would apparently speak up to multiple times a day. According to one senior administration official, Trump took a level of personal offense at the issues in the committee under Barrack’s management. In their estimation, it had less to do with the potentially criminal aspects to the enterprise than with the public image and management of personal benefits aspect.
They told the publication:
‘The president was really surprised to read all about the inauguration and who was trying to buy access and how, because the president doesn’t get any of that money.’
Is whether the president actually gets any of the money people used to try and buy access to his team really even one of the main issues here? According to the president, it apparently is.
Another this time former Trump administration official added a more explicitly egocentric reason for an apparent split, sharing:
‘Barrack is the kind of guy who would tell him things he didn’t want to hear, so Trump stopped talking to him.’
The Trump inauguration committee raised more money than any other presidential inauguration committee ever, finishing with some $107 million. Lots of this money apparently came from interests who Barrack, as a leading fundraiser for the Trump campaign, couldn’t get to donate before the election but suddenly found a spark to do so with Trump’s victory. Some of the money may have come from foreigners from the Middle East and maybe elsewhere who used “straw donors” to funnel cash to the team, in an illegal maneuver. Foreign interests are prohibited from financial contributions to U.S. political operations, and donors must verify that they’re not acting at the urging of any foreign interest when donating.
Another issue is the domestic allocation of the funds that came in. A full $26 million went out to the event planning firm run by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a friend of First Lady Melania Trump who advised her while in the White House until early last year. On top of that, despite figures like Wolkoff herself sounding an alarm about possible legal repercussions, the inauguration committee paid full price (and then some, possibly) for the usage of Trump-branded facilities in D.C. That worked out to a full $1.5 million that went from the Trump inauguration committee straight into Trump pockets.
Besides these issues, there have also been questions including a federal inquiry into whether Barrack illegally sought to tilt Trump policy to be more favorable to the Middle East.
Barrack spokesperson Owen Blicksilver asserted that the relationship between his boss and Trump “remains unchanged,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. He asserted that Barrack “has great respect for President Trump and the incredibly daunting task of executing the job of president of the United States.”
Featured Image via screenshot