Mueller investigating Ukrainian presence at Trump inaugural: report

Mueller investigating Ukrainian presence at Trump inaugural: report
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Special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE has looked into the presence of several Ukrainian officials at President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE's inauguration, The New York Times reported Thursday.

The news outlet reported that federal prosecutors have interviewed witnesses about how the Ukrainians gained access to inaugural events and what they discussed during meetings while in the U.S.

At least a dozen Ukrainians attended the inauguration, including several who were at the official Liberty Ball, The Times reported. The officials also stopped by the Trump International Hotel and brushed with congressional Republicans and Trump allies, the news outlet said.

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Investigators are reportedly looking into evidence that at least some of the Ukrainians held agendas that aligned with Russian interests, including some who sought to ease sanctions on Moscow and pitch a peace plan between Russia and the Ukraine.

The Times reported that investigators have also inquired about whether Ukrainians and other foreigners disguised donations to the Trump inaugural committee. It is illegal for foreigners to donate to such committees.

Though there is no law against foreigners attending inauguration festivities, reports that Mueller is looking into the Ukrainians' attendance comes days after former Trump campaign chairman Paul ManafortPaul John ManafortEx-Trump campaign aide Rick Gates testifies against former Obama counsel Gregory Craig Trial of ex-Obama White House counsel suddenly postponed Top Mueller probe prosecutor to join Georgetown Law as lecturer MORE's attorneys inadvertently revealed that Manafort may have discussed a “Ukrainian peace plan” with a Russian national more than once during the 2016 campaign.

President Trump on Thursday denied knowledge of the contacts.

Manafort began working for the Trump campaign in March 2016 before he was forced to resign that August following revelations about his lobbying work on behalf of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. He was convicted of bank and tax fraud in a trial last year.

Trump has drawn scrutiny at times for his rhetoric toward Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. He has at times cast doubt on the U.S. intelligence committee's conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, and has called for closer ties between the two countries.

The Trump inaugural committee is reportedly under scrutiny over whether it misspent funds or accepted donations in exchange for access to the administration.