The media have finally noticed Donald Trump’s all-but-explicit bribe of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. (More)
“When I call, they kiss my ass”
It’s not as if Donald Trump has made a secret of bribing public officials. He bragged about it back in January:
As a businessman, Trump explained, “I’ve got to give to them, because when I want something, I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.”
So when he wanted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to drop an investigation of Trump University, he wrote her an illegal $25,000 check from his ‘charitable’ Trump Foundation, then tried to cover it up on tax reports, for which he was fined $2500. But he didn’t stop there. He also all-but gave her use of his Mar-a-Lago Resort for a posh fundraiser:
In March 2014, Donald Trump opened his 126-room Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, for a $3,000-per-person fundraiser for Pam Bondi. The Florida attorney general, who was facing a tough re-election campaign, had recently decided not to investigate Trump University.
Trump did not write a check to the attorney general that night. The previous fall, his personal foundation had given $25,000 to a pro-Bondi PAC. But by hosting her fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago and bringing in some of his own star power, Trump provided Bondi’s campaign with a nice financial boost.
Huffington Post reporters Christina Wilkie, Dana Liebelson, Ben Walsh, and Sam Stein found that Trump charged his own campaign $140,000 for a fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago, but the Republican Party of Florida paid only $4855.65 for Bondi’s event. Indeed they didn’t even pay that, as Trump and his daughter Ivanka also gave $125,000 to the Florida GOP … which was Bondi’s single-largest donor.
So, a $25,000 check from his foundation, plus $125,000 to the Florida GOP, less about $4850 for the his resort to host a fundraiser that netted Bondi $150,000 … I guess $300,000 was enough to get Bondi to “kiss his ass” and squash the state’s investigation of his scam ‘university.’
“Even if they’ve done nothing illegal, the foundation will always look too much like a conflict of interest for comfort”
That was the Boston Globe, demanding the foundation be shut down. No, not Trump’s foundation. The Clinton Foundation, the one that does real charity work and has an A-rating from Charity Watch.
Conceding that recent news reports hadn’t proven any actual wrongdoing or lawbreaking with the foundation and its connection the State Department when Clinton was secretary of state, editorials from Washington Post, Boston Globe, and USA Today, among others, were nonetheless adamant: Shut it down.
Columnists at Slate, New York and The Wall Street Journal also jumped in, as did an array of TV talkers anxious to add their voices to the media choir demanding a global charity be shut down because the optics didn’t look quite right. And several outlets insisted that waiting until after the election for foundation action wasn’t “good enough.”
On and on the editorials went, patiently explaining to Clinton what she needed to do to eliminate budding concerns within the Beltway press; how she had to shutter her landmark charity in order to please the optics police.
But as that Media Matters article notes, not a single major newspaper or pundit has demanded that Trump shut down his charity. Indeed merely reporting on the Bondi bribe was enough to send the American Spectator into Liberal Media Bias Mode:
After months of spraining their necks to look away from the fact that the Clinton Global Initiative was nothing more than a pay-for-play slush fund when Hillary Clinton was America’s top diplomat, the MSM finally has something it feels safe to inspect.
The double standard here is egregious even by what pass for the standards of the modern Democrat Media Complex.
Maybe if they spent some time watching and reading the ‘Democratic Media Complex,’ instead of just howling about it, they’d know what study after study has shown: Hillary Clinton received more negative coverage than any other candidate in this year’s Democratic or Republican primaries.
Or maybe they’d argue that Clinton Is Pure Evil so every newspaper and TV station should be calling for her arrest, like they at the GOP convention. That was “fair and balanced” and anything less is “liberal media bias.”
“One of them isn’t telling it like it is”
Speaking of “fair and balanced,” Fox News reported on Clinton’s cough every hour yesterday … and never once mentioned the Trump-Bondi scandal.
But the rest of the media finally woke up. A New York Times op-ed accused Trump of pay-for-play and another Times story covered his history of buying political favors. The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold reported that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have filed a complaint with the IRS charging that Trump’s gift to Bondi was “self-dealing,” in violation of IRS rules for charities, and Fahrenthold’s colleague Greg Sargent argues that Trump’s “They kiss my ass” bravado worked in the GOP primary but won’t hold up under the scrutiny of general election coverage, while MSNBC’s Steve Benen wonders why, if it weren’t a bribe, Trump would put so much money in a state attorney general race.
In a way, it’s a he-said, she-said story—Trump says he never spoke to Bondi about the donation, her representative says he did. But more importantly, it’s a he-said, he-said story: Trump said he could buy politicians off, and now he claims that isn’t true. Which is it?
These revelations are the fruits of the Herculean labors performed by Post reporter David Fahrenthold during the course of the last few months. (The most specific metaphor is probably the Augean Stables.)
Farenthold has found that while Trump often talks about giving to charity, the Trump Foundation has in fact spent barely any of its namesake’s own cash. Most of its coffers come from other people’s gifts. On Celebrity Apprentice, Trump promised personal payments to charities of contestants’ choices, but the donations actually came from the Trump Foundation. In fact, NBC, which aired the show, made a major contribution to the foundation – more than enough, in fact, to cover the “gifts” Trump made on the air. On the charity front, Trump seems to have concluded that appearing to give to charity is more important than the actual act of giving to charity.
In politics, however, actually receiving the check matters. Is Trump a skilled veteran at buying off politicians when he needs favors? You’ll have to decide whether you believe Donald Trump or Donald Trump, and one of them isn’t telling it like it is.
So you can take Donald Trump’s word for it, or you can take the other Donald Trump’s word for it. Or you can look at the evidence and decide for yourself. I’ll go with the evidence … and it’s about damn time the media did too.
Photo Credit: Gerald Herbert (AP)
Good day and good nuts