Donald Trump provided special invite-only access to several Russian billionaires during the POTUS’ inauguration and those individuals are now being investigated by Robert Mueller’s special counsel.
ABC News is reporting that the men of interest built their billion dollar fortunes on the back of the Soviet Union’s collapse and have “since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department.”
Most troubling, perhaps, is that the men attended events that were reserved for top Trump donors and political allies.
“Their presence has attracted the interest of federal investigators probing Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, three sources with knowledge of the matter said,” according to NBC News.
The Washington Post was the first to report that people with ties to the Kremlin were invited to Trump’s inaugural celebration but the NBC report goes into depth about the severity of the invitee list and their involvement in Trump’s victory celebrations.
The oligarchs attended a “Candlelight Dinner” in Washington’s Union Station which was reserved for individuals who contributed at least $1 million to Trump’s campaign.
Others attended the “Chairman’s Global Dinner,” a 500-guest event that included high-ranking campaign aides, foreign ambassadors, and dignitaries.
NBC notes that one oligarch was invited to a traditional Inaugural Day luncheon hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
While there are no rules governing who the President invites to these typical celebrations, sources say it’s “highly unusual” to have oligarchs attend.
The New York Times notes that one of the men who attended, billionaire Victor Vekselberg, was stopped at a New York airport and questioned by federal agents who are working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Vekselberg was seated next to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, during the dinner.
As previously reported by HillReporter, Cohen was provided with a $1 million consulting contract that was tied to Vekselberg’s Renova Group.
As CNN notes, the Trump administration has already placed sanctions on seven Russian oligarchs “with ties to President Vladimir Putin along with 12 companies they own or control.” Those men were part of a targeted campaign against 17 senior Russian government officials for their part in “interfering in the 2016 election and other ongoing aggressions across the globe in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria.”
The White House has not yet responded to the unusual dinner and inauguration celebration invites.