Friday, September 9, 2016
Donald Trump bribed Pam Bondi
The swirl of scandal around Donald Trump’s donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is intensifying, with the Republican nominee and his aides vigorously pushing back against the idea that he bought the decision by Bondi to not pursue an investigation into his Trump University.
The controversy whipped back up last week when news emerged that Trump paid a $2,500 fine because his foundation improperly donated $25,000 to Bondi’s political election committee in 2013 (tax-exempt charitable groups are not allowed to make political contributions).
Following the donation in 2013, Bondi’s office declined to join a fledgling multi-state probe into Trump’s real estate seminar program. The links between the two continued, with Trump hosting a lavish fundraiser for Bondi at his Mar-a-Lago resort in March 2014, and Bondi endorsing Trump in March of this year.
While Trump and Bondi say there’s no fire underneath the smoke, the Manhattan businessman’s political wheelings and dealings are now drawing more scrutiny, especially because Trump’s campaign has been driving hard at the idea that Hillary Clinton engaged in pay for play through her Clinton Foundation and her tenure at the State Department.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday morning brushed aside questioning from George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” remarking that Trump “has supported many, many Republican candidates” while suggesting that the two stories are not comparable in scale or consequence.
“But we do know Mrs. Clinton, Secretary Clinton used the State Department as a concierge for many foreign donors,” Conway said. “And I think there’s actually no comparison between man who gives consistently to Republican candidates in their re-election, George, and a woman who as secretary of state has had her official staff that we pay for bartering for position and bartering for state dinners and, you know, just making contributions that are inappropriate. The State Department is a very busy place. We should get human rights for those women and girls not disrespected and not worry about foreign governments coming in to influence.”
Conway later in the day repeatedly tried to sidestep forceful questions during an interview on Bloomberg's "With All Due Respect," dismissing the idea that Trump engaged in a pay to play as "ridiculous."
Co-host Mark Halperin tried to press Conway, saying, "You're just asking people to accept the timing as a coincidence, given the contribution came right around the time her office was making a decision?"
"Yes, they say that they never discussed it," Conway said about Trump and Bondi, adding, "I think there is absolutely no equivalence between that and Hillary Clinton using the State Department as a concierge for foreign donors to move hundreds of millions."
The Trump campaign is also facing a new crop of editorials, with the Miami Herald saying it’s “puzzling” why Trump’s controversy is not getting “equal billing” to that associated with the Clinton Foundation.
“Unlike the faux scandal over the Clinton institution, there were actual victims here — people who paid good money to Trump University and feel they were duped. Why is Pam Bondi not investigating that?” the Miami Herald editorial board wrote in an item titled, “Donald Trump’s gift to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi deserves a closer look.”
The New York Times also dug in, writing on its opinion page, “If Ms. Bondi promised to back off the Trump University suit in exchange for campaign money during that 2013 phone conversation, it could be a crime. As for Mr. Trump, the $2,500 I.R.S. fine is a tiny penalty, unless voters impose consequences of their own.”
The Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell, citing records obtained from a public-records request, wrote in an column Tuesday that the “wrong person is receiving the brunt of the scrutiny here.”
“Imagine you were robbed and the prosecutor gave the suspect a pass after taking $25,000 from him,” Maxwell wrote. “There would be universal outrage — and rightfully so. This is not the behavior of an ethical prosecutor.”
Bondi’s 2010 opponent, former federal prosecutor and state Sen. Dan Gelber, said on his blog that the Trump money “taints” the Florida attorney general, who is at least guilty of a crime of optics.
“In fairness to Bondi, it is not at all clear whether she knew the details of the investigation when the check was solicited, or whether it influenced her Office's decision,” Gelber wrote. “But it doesn't have to. Bondi should have rejected the money, or returned it immediately upon learning that Trump was seeking an action - or in this case an inaction - from her Office.”
Bill Clinton ramped up his own attacks, taking a shot at Trump on Wednesday at a rally in Orlando as he told the crowd that Trump “attacked my foundation. He uses his foundation's money to pay off your attorney general."
And even as Trump and Bondi deny any wrongdoing, Trump’s own prior words are also coming back to haunt him.
The billionaire has repeatedly talked about freely donating to both Republican and Democratic politicians, saying they were smart business moves.
“As a businessman and a very substantial donor to very important people, when you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal in July 2015.
At the first Republican debate last August, Trump ripped into his primary rivals for taking contributions from him in the past.
“I will tell you that our system is broken. I gave to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give.” Trump said at the time. “And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.”
Trump laid out a similar rationale for deciding to run for president during his nomination acceptance speech in July, declaring, “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves.”
He added, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
Why the Feds haven't jumped on this I have no idea. Remember Donald when you point a finger at Hillary Clinton three more are pointing back at you.