Donald Trump’s inauguration, in addition to being a poorly attended bust and a huge rejection of Trump’s illegitimate presidency, has also long been a source of financial questions. Trump raised massive amounts of money to pay for the inaugural, and best anyone could tell, little of it was spent on anything substantive. Trump claimed the unused money went to charity. It turns out the money largely went somewhere else instead, and now it’s placed Melania Trump at the center of a multimillion dollar financial scandal.
Of the hundred-plus million dollars that was raised for the Trump inaugural, only five million dollars – or less than five percent of it – was ultimately donated to charity, according to financial disclosures. That means that, as is his custom, Trump lied about where the money went. Worse, roughly one-fourth of all the money raised for the inaugural was funneled to a personal friend of Melania Trump.
In general it’s perfectly legal to hire your friends and overpay them however much you like. But the rules are entirely different when it comes political fundraising. For instance Donald Trump is now in legal trouble for having apparently paid off his former mistress Stormy Daniels using campaign funds – but that was a mere $130,000. In this instance, Trump funneled $26 million to Melania’s party planner friend, according to a new CNBC report (link). This is a whole different ballgame.
The Trump camp is claiming that only around $1.6 million of the $26 million ended up staying in Melania’s friend’s pocket, after the rest was paid out to subcontractors. But we don’t even know if that’s true, because the Trump camp is always lying about these things. In any case, Melania Trump funneled a whole lot of fundraised money to her personal buddy, and that’s not how these things are supposed to work. We’ll soon find out if this is a crime under the law or just a crime against humanity.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report