New York Times Pretty Sure Trump Bribery Stories Not True Unless New York Times Breaks Them

Neither a gentleman nor a scholar

The New York Timeshas done some sleuthing, and has decided that if the New York Times didn't break the story of Donald Trump's very conveniently-timed (and, oopsies, also illegal) donation to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's re-election campaign in 2013, after which her office then dropped its investigation of his scammy "university," then there's probably nothing to the story. Admittedly, we're reading between the grey lines there a little.

[wonkbar]<a href=""></a>[/wonkbar]So, just to review, what happened was, back in the summer of 2013, Pam Bondi asked Donald Trump to please give generously to her re-election campaign. Neither Trump nor Bondi recalls exactly when she asked, but it was "several weeks" before the Orlando Sentinel ran a September 13 story saying the Florida A.G.'s office was looking into allegations of fraud by the Florida branch of Trump University. Four days later, "And Justice for All," a political action committee supporting Bondi, received a $25,000 check from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. By the middle of October, Bondi's office had decided that nahhh, there wasn't anything fishy at all about Trump University, despite having received over 20 complaints from people who said the phony real estate classes were a scam. Most of that came out in 2013 and then lay dormant until March of this year, when Bondi endorsed Trump for president and Florida journalists started remembering they'd covered what sure looked like a bribe back in 2013, except it's Florida so it's so hard to keep up with which politicians are being bought off by which rich assholes. The story got renewed attention a couple weeks ago, when the Washington Post reported that Trump had actually paid a $2500 fine to the IRS for having made the contribution illegally through his foundation, which is a definite no-no.

Ah, but maybe there was no bribe at all, says the Times, which has found new documentation! The papers has done some time-lining, and learned that the Orlando Sentinel first contacted Bondi's office about Trump U on August 29, asking if Florida had investigated the scammy school, in light of the fact that New York A.G. Eric Schneiderman had just filed a fraud lawsuit against the operation. Jennifer Meale, Bondi's communication director, did some checking around, found there had been 23 complaints against Trump U in Florida, and eventually emailed the reporter that while there had never been a formal investigation, "We are currently reviewing the allegations in the New York complaint." The Sentinel then ran its story on September 13, and the check from Trump arrived at "And Justice For All" four days later. BUT!!!!! notes the Times:

But documents obtained this week by The New York Times, including a copy of Mr. Trump’s check, at least partly undercut that timeline. Although the check was received by Ms. Bondi’s committee four days after the Sentinel report, and was recorded as such in her financial disclosure filings, it was actually dated and signed by Mr. Trump four days before the article appeared.

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?

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.


Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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