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Federal prosecutors subpoena Trump inaugural records

Investigators want documents related to inaugural committee donors and vendors, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Federal prosecutors have issued a subpoena for documents from President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, a representative of the committee said Monday night.

The U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York is investigating allegations that the committee misspent some of the tens of millions of dollars it had raised and that some donors gave money in exchange for access to influence Trump administration policy positions.

"We have just received a subpoena for documents," the committee representative told NBC News. "While we are still reviewing the subpoena, it is our intention to cooperate with the inquiry."

The subpoena was first reported by ABC News. A representative of the U.S. attorney's office wouldn't comment Monday night.

The investigation into the Trump Inaugural Committee is being led by federal prosecutors in New York and was not a referral from special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a person familiar with the probe.

Law enforcement officials and former prosecutors say that the type of wide-ranging subpoena that was issued, seeking information related to donors and inauguration vendors and other documents, indicates that this investigation is in a very early phase.

A separate person familiar with the investigation says that the subpoena was received Monday evening after some press reports suggesting that prosecutors had contacted the committee’s legal team asking whom the subpoenas should be sent to.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday on FOX News that the subpoena “doesn't have anything to do with the White House.”

The Wall Street Journal, which said it had reviewed a copy of the subpoena, reported that it doesn't mention Tom Barrack Jr., the head of the committee. Barrack, a prominent real estate developer and longtime friend of the president's, was interviewed by investigators from the Mueller's office as part of the investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

According to public filings and NBC News’ previous reporting, straw donations to the Inaugural Committee by a Russian businessman and a Ukranian businessman were initially looked at by Mueller’s office. The person who facilitated those donations, Samuel Patten, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent in August and court documents at the time detailed the straw donation scheme.

The documents do not suggest the Trump Inaugural Committee was aware of that straw purchase.

It is illegal for a foreign national or foreign corporation to donate to a Presidential Inauguration Committee.

The Journal reported in December that the investigation of the inaugural committee began after federal agents seized materials from Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, in April.

The subpoena seeks documents regarding donations to the committee "made by or on behalf of foreign nationals, including but not limited to any communications regarding or relating to the possibility of donations by foreign nationals," according to The Journal.

More broadly, the subpoena reported on Monday seeks all documents related to the committee's donors and vendors, including records related to "benefits" like tickets or invitations to receptions that donors received in exchange, according to The Journal.

Federal Election Commission records show that the committee's biggest donors included the casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, AT&T Inc. and Boeing Co., all of whom gave $1 million or more. The Journal reported in December that there was no sign that those donors are under investigation.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., told MSNBC in December that the House Intelligence Committee, of which he is the chairman, will also examine possible illegal foreign funding of the inauguration.