Sarah Sanders frantically downplays investigation into Trump's inaugural committee: 'Nothing to do with the White House'
On Monday, prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York subpoenaed President Donald Trump's inaugural committee, demanding a sweeping cache of legal and accounting documents on donors, vendors and finances, as part of a deepening criminal investigation.
When asked about this investigation on CNN by John Berman, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to dismiss it as irrelevant to the president.
"Are you confident that no one performed any illegal actions on the president's inaugural committee?" asked Berman.
"Look, I'm reading the same reports you are this morning, and gathering that information what I do know at this point is this has nothing to do with the Trump White House," said Sanders.
Berman pushed back. "The inaugural committee is absolutely separate from the White House. The notion, though, that it has nothing to do with the White House ... it has something to do with the person who sits in the Oval Office, in that President Trump, it was his inauguration, it was his campaign that there are so many investigations and questions with now. His transition, which is investigated, the Trump Organization being investigated et al. He is a common thread, to an extent, in all these investigations, is he not?"
"Actually, I think the common thread is a hysteria that this president became president," said Sanders.
"Those things that have taken place have absolutely nothing to do with the president," she added. "They have everything to do with the fact that people are spending their lives doing nothing but trying to find negatives when, in fact, the president has been incredibly successful."
Sanders is simply not telling the truth. While prosecutors may be looking into what funds were spent on and whether any of the money illegally came from foreign sources, the Wall Street Journal reported in December that the Manhattan office is also looking into "whether some of the committee's top donors gave money in exchange for access to the incoming Trump administration, policy concessions or to influence official administration positions." On the face of it, that would indicate the investigation does have to do with the White House.
And even if the White House isn't on the hook, Trump's family and business holdings may be. A recent ProPublica report suggests that the inaugural committee bought food, rooms, and venue space from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. at a price above fair-market value, and that Trump's daughter Ivanka helped negotiate the contracts — which might constitute an illegal scheme to divert inaugural funds into the Trump Organization.
How deep this investigation will go is anyone's guess at this point. But based on the publicly available facts, Sanders' denial does not add up.