Feb 5, 2019

Memo: Firm owned by inauguration chair planned profit off ties to Trump

Trump inauguration

Tom Barrack (L) greets President Trump at his 2017 inauguration. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images

A month after President Trump was sworn into office, the investment firm owned by the chair of his inaugural committee developed a plan to profit off its ties to members of the Trump administration and foreign officials "while avoiding any appearance of lobbying," according to a confidential memo obtained by ProPublica and WNYC.

The big picture: On Monday, federal prosecutors in New York ordered Trump’s inaugural committee to turn over documents relating to its donors, finances and event attendees.

  • Investigators are reportedly interested in whether foreign nationals funneled donations into the inaugural committee, which would be illegal.

Details: The memo outlined a "strategic plan" for Tom Barrack's company, Colony NorthStar, to use relationships with "key members of the Trump Administration" and foreign dignitaries to help attract investors for public-private infrastructure proposals.

  • No other group can “currently match the relationships or resources that we possess,” the memo read.
  • It was reportedly written by the inaugural committee's deputy chair Rick Gates, who has since been indicted and pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation.
  • A spokesman for the company told ProPublica and WNYC: “This memo was simply an outline of a proposed potential business plan which was never acted upon or implemented. Colony at no time has maintained a DC office."
  • However, Barrack, a longtime friend of the president with extensive international business ties, was "frequently present at meetings with government officials in the early months of the Trump administration," ProPublica and WNYC note.
  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also met with Colony executives at least three times in the four months after Trump's inauguration, according to watchdog group American Oversight.

Go deeper: Read the full ProPublica/WNYC report

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