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President Trump and Melania Trump at the inaugural ball. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

As federal investigators continue to peer in to President Trump's inauguration committee's finances, receipts and internal emails, uncovered by ProPublica, reveal that the Trump Organization was paid by the committee for rooms, meals and event space at the organization's hotel in Washington, as Ivanka Trump played a role in negotiations.

Why it matters: Such spending could be found to violate tax law, "[i]f the Trump hotel charged more than the going rate for the venues." Marcus Owens, a former head of the division of the Internal Revenue Service that oversees nonprofits, told ProPublica, "[t]he fact that the inaugural committee did business with the Trump Organization raises huge ethical questions about the potential for undue enrichment."

According to ProPublica, Ivanka and other Trump employees were emailed by "a top inaugural planner" expressing concern "that the hotel was overcharging for its event spaces."

By the numbers: The inaugural committee raised $104 million in donations for the inauguration.

  • Nearly $40 million of that money was left unreported by the committee with it only being required to list its top five contractors, ProPublica reports.
  • Though it's unclear what the committee was ultimately charged, e-mails show there was concern that they were being overcharged by the organization with room rates of $175,000 per day and a $700,000 bill for the Presidential Ballroom and meeting rooms over a four-day period.

Driving the news: Per ProPublica, if the IRS finds "that a violation occurred, the Trump Organization would have to refund any overcharge and the inaugural committee would be hit with a 25% tax on the money."

The organization is under investigation by federal prosecutors for multiple accusations including misspending finances, whether donors gave in return for political favors, and whether foreigners funneled money to the inauguration.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Trump pardons former fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.

Trump pardons Bannon in final hours of presidency

Steve Bannon. Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

President Trump issued an eleventh-hour pardon to his former chief strategist Steve Bannon on Tuesday night, sparing a longtime ally from a federal fraud prosecution over his alleged misappropriation of nonprofit funds.

Why it matters: Bannon was the most high-profile name on a White House list of what's expected to be dozens pardons and commutations, with hours remaining in Trump’s presidency. His pardon of the former Breitbart News chief came as Bannon faced criminal charges stemming from a scheme to privately finance a southern border wall.

Ina Fried, author of Login
2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google is investigating the actions of another top AI ethicist

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo by Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Google is investigating recent actions by Margaret Mitchell, who helps lead the company's ethical AI team, Axios has confirmed.

Why it matters: The probe follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a prominent researcher also on the AI ethics team at Google whose ouster ignited a firestorm among Google employees.

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