September 13, 2013, the date of publication of the initial Orlando Sentinel article reporting that Bondi’s office was considering joining the New York AG’s fraud lawsuit against Trump U., was … a Friday. The Trump Foundation’s check to Bondi’s PAC arrived on September 17, the following … Tuesday. Bondi’s office responded to the Sentinel reporter’s Aug. 29 inquiry HOW many days before the article was published, exactly? And WHAT was the date of that late-summer phone call Bondi made to Trump?
Look, here is the actual check from the Trump Foundation (remember, all just an innocent mistake, heh-heh!), dated 9/9/13. Totally undercuts the idea that Trump bribed Bondi to head off an investigation, doesn’t it? [Photocopy of front and back of canceled check.]
Except not so much. Even the Times acknowledges, this doesn’t absolutely clear up anything, since
“Even as he has denied trying to do so in this instance, he has boasted brazenly and repeatedly during his presidential campaign that he has made copious campaign contributions over the past two decades, including to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, in order to buy access and consideration for his business dealings.”
Plus, the date on the check is only significant if you assume that the first Donald Trump heard of the possible investigation was the Orlando Sentinel story on September 13 — as the Times notes, the question from the reporter was phoned into Bondi’s office on August 29, and it’s not unthinkable that Donald Trump — who likes to brag how his campaign donations help him get what he wants — may have heard about the investigation before the story was published. We also have to assume Trump is such a paragon of honesty that he’d never, ever backdate a check. Remember, this is a guy who routinely lies about stuff that can be fact-checked with a single Google search. Also, isn’t it just a tiny bit weird that it would take eight days for a check to make it from the Trump Foundation to Bondi’s PAC?
Happily, this shocking new evidence is hardly a watertight alibi, and the New York attorney general is continuing with his investigation of the Trump Foundation — not only for the Bondi payment, but for other iffy transactions.
Then again, now that Hillary Clinton is campaigning again, maybe she’ll cough, and everyone will forget about Trump’s allegedly cozy arrangement with Bondi.
— New York Times Pretty Sure Trump Bribery Stories Not True Unless New York Times Breaks Them, Wonkette, yesterday
The Wonkette article says mostly what I said in this post yesterday published at virtually the same time as the Wonkette post was, but neither I nor Wonkette had checked the day of the week that the Sentinel article was published on. But I just did. September 13, 2013 was … a Friday. September 17, the date the check arrived, was the following … Tuesday.
Clairvoyance on Trump’s part, that decision to have his foundation donate to Bondi’s PAC four days before the Friday before the Sentinel article was published but very shortly after the Sentinel reporter first contacted Bondi’s office inquiring about her office’s plans, if any, to join the New York AG’s lawsuit, an inquiry corresponding timeline-wise to Bondi’s phone solicitation to Trump that she only recently had told reporters occurred several weeks before the Trump Foundation check arrived at her PAC. Y’know, back when she thought that timeline would preclude suspicion of extortion or bribery.
Y’know, back before Trump recalled that he had, um, written the check before the Sentinel article was published but after Bondi called him to tell him of the reporter’s inquiry and what her office had responded and would be reported by the reporter. It’s hard to keep all these things straight and at instant recall, no doubt.
Regular AB reader Beene wrote this morning in the Comments thread to my post:
Bev, give us a brake; pay for play and that the elite were punished enough by public embarrassment, has been public policies sense we let Nixon retire instead of jailing him. Plus in today’s politics $25,000.00 is pocket change.
To which I replied:
Here’s the brake I’ll give you: This isn’t ordinary pay-to-play, in which the payer wants a specific policy or favor that doesn’t involve a prosecutor’s office or a government agency charged with civil enforcement dropping a criminal or civil-law-enforcement investigation or a decision not to pursue possible criminal charges or civil-law-enforcement action.
That’s overt bribery or extortion of a prosecutor or civil-law-enforcement official, not pay-to-play, Beene. And it’s unequivocally illegal under the federal criminal code and the state criminal code in, surely, every single state.
What a ridiculous comment.
Btw, what you want me to give you is a break, not a brake. I think.
Another regular reader, William Ryan, commented:
What a bunch of horse poop is I ever saw it. First nobody ever forced anybody to sign up for any school. Second nobody ever promised or guaranteed success. The success part is totally up to you. Third there is no law against making a campaign contribution even if the timing has bad optics. Forth the FBI says that they cannot prove or disprove intent. Fifth if MS57 just substituted HRC for Trump in the comment it would be spot on correct. You all have to dig real hard to find any significant dirt on Trump while the corruption crap from HRC which is 10 times worse just seems to keep flowing like a political sewer. HRC could murder the pope and you would all cover for her and say it didn’t happen.
So bald misrepresentation about what the product is–a.k.a., fraud–is fine, right?
Obviously, you think the fraud claims are that the sales pitch guaranteed success, rather than that specific representations about the instructors and course material were false. Why not actually read an article about the specifics of the claim, William, before making statements based on idiotic presumptions?
And third commenter, NN, who’s not a regular here wrote:
Has anybody looked at the Foundation checks before and after the $25,000.00 check to see if the check was backdated? If the check numbered before the $25,000.00 check is dated after the $25,000.00 check, then Trump deliberately tried to disguise the source of the bribe by backdating the check. Also, check to see when they were cashed or deposited in case Trump was clever enough to back date many checks.
The article is accompanied by the PDF-formatted photocopies of the front and back of the canceled check, but the printing showing the date it was cancelled is too small for me to read.
But the period at issue is eight days, and here’s guessing that the check was made out on a little-used checking account, maybe the account used only for donations–and this foundation apparently didn’t make a lot of those.
Trump apparently shared Beene’s view that $25,000 was just pocket change, since, as Bondi might have expected and as the Times article and other articles note, it was only a down payment. There was that large $3,000-per-ticket fundraiser held shortly afterward at Mar-a-Lago.
Then there is that related issue that Trump’s foundation has for the last decade itself been a scam. It’s simply a business, not a charitable organization in any normal sense.