Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Trump's not Bragging About Paying off Politicians Anymore

All it took was for Hillary supporters to shame the media into doing it's job. Certainly it helped having the Washington Post scoop the NY Times on Trump's bribe to Pam Bondi which he funneled through his sleazy Trump Foundation.

"Remember, until Bondi story took off, Trump Spent a Year Bragging About Paying Off Pols" … #InstaBondi #payforplay

What's amazing is how until now the media was letting Trump essentially run against the Clinton Foundation. Trump was essentailly making two arguments simultaneously:

1. I pay politicians off and they give me exactly what I want

2. Crooked Hilary Clinton is all about pay for play.

Somehow he was able to attack her for allegedly trading on special favors while his own business model according to himself is: trading on special favors.

The question always begged: even if you believe the Clinton Foundation is a legitimate issue which deserves scrutiny, Trump is just the wrong messenger for that. It's like Roger Ailes running against someone for cheating on his wife. Maybe that's wrong, but a guy with his rap sheet isn't the one to throw stones.

But now the media has started scrutinizing Trump's outrageous bribe to Bondi while as AG her office was investigating Trump U.

And somehow Trump was allowed to run as the clean government candidate. Until now. Now the NY Times is-reluctantly getting in.

"Ok, NYT grudgingly comes onto Trump/Bondi field. No new deets but notes Trumps history of payoffs."

They do also have a tough op-ed up now on Trump-Bondi.

So now Trump wants us to understand that while he bought politicians, Bondi is the one politician he paid where he expected nothing in return.

What about Greg Abbot who he paid $35,000 to drop Trump case in Texas? In that case it wasn't funneled through the Trump Foundation, but ethically it was just as egregious. A rich fat cat able to defeat a lawsuit that alleges he defrauded lots of regular people in a state by giving the state AG a fat donation.

Josh Marshall:

"For months, Donald Trump has gloated about being on the winning end of a political system where elected officials owe their major donors favors. But now Trump is distancing himself from the pay-to-play world as he faces scrutiny over a major donation he made in support of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as her office was weighing whether to sue Trump University."

"Since embarking on his presidential campaign, Trump has boasted about his history of making major contributions to politicians of both parties -- contributions he said are part of a “game” that he has been on the “other side all of my life.”

“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 last year. He alleged at a GOP debate that only he can fix this "broken" system because he knows it so well.

Yes. This was always a weird argument, sort of like the fox running to be in charge of the chicken coop. Sure, 'Now I'll use my powers for good.'

Meanwhile we have all kinds of stories of Trump breaking campaign finance laws. For instance, after the RNC started raising money for him he immediately tripled the rent to Trump hotels and he has continued to solicit foreign donations which is totally illegal.

Again, all of this while he runs against 'Crooked Hillary Clinton.' And the media has gone along with the narrative.

"The claim that he was a player on the winning side allowed Trump to defend himself from attacks from his Republican rivals who criticized his donations to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. He also used the idea of buying political influence to brag about his (allegedly) self-funded primary campaign, while throwing it back at his opponents by suggesting that they were in fact the “puppets” of donors who had “control over them.”

This self funding claim is yet another Trump claim which has proven totally hollow as no candidate in memory has been so dependent on the party's national committee for fundraising.

"That posturing is beginning to haunt the GOP nominee as questions multiply about a $25,000 donation his foundation made to a political group supporting Bondi, who, days before, announced her office would consider joining the New York attorney general in suing Trump University. She ultimately decided not to go forward with the case."

"Facing allegations that his donation to the pro-Bondi group was motivated by the threat of an investigation, Trump denied Monday that he spoke to Bondi at all."

“I never spoke to her, first of all. She’s a fine person, beyond reproach. I never even spoke to her about it at all. She’s a fine person. Never spoken to her about it, never,” Trump said Monday. “Many of the attorney generals turned that case down because I’ll win that case in court. Many turned that down. I never spoke to her.”

"His contention that he never spoke with Bondi was at odds with the account of one of Bondi’s campaign consultants, who said Bondi personally solicited the donation herself."

"Later, on Tuesday, Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks told Politico: “His comments were in reference to any discussion about Trump University — not the donation."

In other news, the Miami Herald on the Trump and Bondi show:

".@MiamiHerald Ed Board: Trump's gift to Florida A.G. Pam Bondi deserves a closer look. "

What I don't get is how this doesn't kick the legs out from under Trump's whole attack on the Clinton Foundation.

Let's listen to the Miami Herald:

"Isn’t it terrible about those connections between the candidate’s foundation and charitable donations that changed hands in what appeared to be play-to-pay? Yes, it is. And now, at last, the Internal Revenue Service has agreed by levying a fine on the foundation for violating the rules that bar political donations by the charities."

"Don’t expect Donald Trump to apologize, however. As per custom, his campaign refused to respond to questions by a Times/Herald reporter."

"What? You thought we were talking about Hillary Clinton? Don’t blame you. A lot has been made over the Clinton Foundation and its connections to her when she was head of the State Department."

"This newspaper, among many others, has chided her for failing to sever the connection with the foundation so as to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest. But despite all the innuendo and suggestions of wrongdoing — despite all the outrage generated by the right-wing attack machine — no actual conflict or legal violation has turned up, even with armies of investigators working feverishly to discover wrongdoing that apparently isn’t there."

"What attracted far less attention than the numerous stories about the Clinton/Foundation connection was news disclosed by the Washington Post that Donald Trump paid a penalty to the IRS involving a $25,000 gift by the Trump Foundation."

"The recipient was a political committee called And Justice for All controlled by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. As a registered nonprofit, the Trump Foundation was not allowed to make political donations. The gift violated federal regulations."

"That the gift was given and received is not in dispute. The transaction took place. After the IRS action, Mr. Trump reimbursed the foundation and paid the $2500 fine personally, according to a spokesman for the Trump Organization."

"The rest remains murky, and, so far, riddled with contractions and misdirection. Originally, for example, the Trump Foundation said it gave the money to another group in Kansas with a similar name to Ms. Bondi’s political group. Then it blamed a clerical error and said it should have come from Mr. Trump’s account, not from his foundation."

"More serious are the questions about why the money was given and how it came about."

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Yes. While Trump broke the law in using his phony charity to pay this bribe, he didn't use it in his $35,000 bribe of Greg Abbot in Texas which is just as egregious. 

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