New details of spending on President Trump’s inaugural two years ago show that it roughly doubled that of his immediate predecessors.
WASHINGTON — Private donors put up $107 million to usher Donald J. Trump into office in style two years ago, and it is now clear just how enthusiastically his inaugural committee went to town with it.
There was $10,000 for makeup for 20 aides at an evening inaugural event. There was another $30,000 in per diem payments to dozens of contract staff members, in addition to their fully covered hotel rooms, room service orders, plane tickets and taxi rides, including some to drop off laundry.
The bill from the Trump International Hotel was more than $1.5 million. And there was a documentary, overseen by a close friend of Melania Trump’s, that was ultimately abandoned.
The details of the expenditures, gleaned from interviews and from documents reviewed by The New York Times and not previously made public, show that the committee spent heavily on nearly every aspect of the events surrounding the inauguration.
In 72 days, it laid out about $100 million, roughly twice as much or more than was raised by Barack Obama or George W. Bush for their first and second presidential inaugurations.
The expansive spending reflected Mr. Trump’s desire to make a grand entrance, with roughly 20 events around Washington, people familiar with the events said. It also had the hallmarks of previous Trump efforts, such as the campaign, with some Trump-family friends circumventing existing chains of command.
Disclosure of the spending details comes at a time when the inaugural committee is facing legal scrutiny over the donations that funded it.
Inaugural committees are required to document every donation with the Federal Election Commission, and the Trump team’s reports are now under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Investigators are also looking into whether any foreign donations, which are illegal in the United States, were passed through Americans, and whether any donations went unrecorded, people familiar with the investigations said.
People involved with the committee have said they vetted all donors, but that they could only do so much to prove someone’s money was their own. False statements to the Federal Election Commission can be a crime.
The investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan was prompted at least partly by a recording that Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, made of a conversation he had with a central figure in the inaugural planning, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, shortly after Mrs. Trump ended Ms. Winston Wolkoff’s role as an unpaid adviser to the first lady. Ms. Winston Wolkoff was dismissed after initial reports about the amount of money taken in by the entity she formed to help produce the inaugural.
There is no indication of any investigation into the inaugural committee’s spending. For the most part, inaugural committees are free to spend the money they raise from private donations as they wish.
The bulk of the money for the inaugural committee came from big corporations, like AT&T, Bank of America and Pfizer, and wealthy Republicans donors like Sheldon Adelson and Andrew Beal.
Given the short time frame between Election Day and Inauguration Day, inaugural committees cannot always seek out the lowest bidder. In the case of Mr. Trump’s inaugural, some staff members and major vendors were veterans of previous inaugurations.
Much of the spending, while outsize, was mundane. Documents reviewed by The Times accounted for the entire $107 million raised for the inaugural, with most of the money going to payroll expenses and roughly 40 entities, the bulk of which were hotel chains and other vendors.
Roughly $5 million went to charity, which organizers have noted is the most ever for an inaugural committee.
But millions were written off in lost revenue. That included $6.4 million for blocks of hotel rooms booked for guests who ended up arranging their own accommodations. The Republican National Committee booked the excess hotel rooms before the inaugural staff was even formed, but the committee had to pony up when only half as many rooms were used as the party committee had expected.