BOMBSHELL: The New York Times Dispels 3-Year-Long Accusation That Trump Bribed Fla. AG Bondi

The mainstream media has been breathlessly running headlines like this one from The Chicago Times, “Trump signed improper charity check supporting Florida attorney general,” alleging that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump bribed Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (another Republican) in order to avoid prosecution. For three years now, zealous reporters have tried to find a smoking gun revealing impropriety in Trump’s campaign donation.

Now The New York Times says there’s almost certainly no smoking gun to find.

A Matter of Days

The US Supreme Court recently held in the landmark public corruption case, McDonnell v. U.S., that bribery requires that the person giving the donation get something for it. According to the Federal Code (18 U.S. Code § 201), not only must something of value have been offered to a public official, but it must be shown to have influenced that public official’s behavior for the contributor’s benefit.

The train of events began when several attorneys general filed complaints against Trump a few years ago, claiming that he fraudulently marketed Trump University’s real estate and wealth-building seminars. On September 13, 2013, a Florida newspaper published the story that Bondi’s office was investigating Trump and might join the other attorneys general in a suit.

Four days after that, Bondi’s PAC received $25,000 from Trump. (Several months later, Trump threw a $3,000 a plate fundraiser for her at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach and she’s become a prominent supporter.)

Complaints were filed with local authorities and the FBI’s public corruption unit alleging bribery to stop Bondi’s office from investigating him too. But after Bondi’s office released 8,000 documents in response to a public records request, even The New York Times admitted that the check had been written and signed four days before the story broke in the media that Bondi’s office was considering investigating Trump University.

Additionally, the Times reports about Trump’s donations in Florida that “he has contributed at least $375,000 to state and federal candidates and political committees here since 1995, accounting for 19 percent of the roughly $2 million he has given to campaigns nationwide, other than his own.” Bondi said she personally solicited the donation from Trump, who had already contributed $500 to her campaign in July.

The Times isn’t giving Trump a clean bill of health, however. The press had reported in 2010 that “the attorneys general of Florida and Texas had gotten complaints from Trump University students. “His contribution, therefore, could have been a pre-emptive investment to discourage Ms. Bondi from joining the New York case.”

No Evidence of Bribery

In the article , the Times said it could find no evidence in the released records that Bondi herself even was aware of the initial review being done by her office. This was not unusual. Most of the complaints came to her predecessor, who said he had not known about them, the Times reported, as did his two top deputies and others in the consumer protection division.

In fact, the chief of the consumer protection section wrote in an internal email in 2011 that the office was holding off on any investigation of Trump University. When Mark Hamilton, a lawyer in the consumer protection division, heard about the media outcry in 2013, he advised the office that any lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General against Trump University would apply to Floridians, so there was no need for the Florida AG to duplicate the work.

Now, Trump did make a mistake in writing the check from his charitable organization, not his personal account, which he blamed on a staff clerical error, and reimbursed his charity with $25,000 in personal funds. He also paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS over the mistake.

Mac Stipanovich, who the Times describes as “a longtime Florida Republican strategist and lobbyist who disdains Mr. Trump and has never worked with Ms. Bondi,” observed, “The optics are terrible even though there is not a shred of evidence that Pam Bondi solicited a bribe or that Donald Trump provided one.”

Although the Times has (mostly) cleared Trump, most of the rest of the mainstream news outlets are still claiming he behaved improperly and they are exaggerating the seriousness of the check confusion. Fortunately for Trump, the top newspaper in the country, which is left-leaning, has told a different story. (For more from the author of “BOMBSHELL: The New York Times Dispels 3-Year-Long Accusation That Trump Bribed Fla. AG Bondi” please click HERE)

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