Many think that when it comes to Trump-Pence, Trump is the entertainment arm of the duo. But Mike Pence has his moments. Speaking at a stopover in Chesterfield Mo today, he, according to a local NPR report,* asserted that the Trump-Pence campaign would have a narrow focus on (oddly broad) issues like national security and “the integrity of the President’s office.” As a strategy, this approach is a natural for The Donald and his side-kick Mikey. It eliminates the need to dig around in the policy weeds – a really good idea for a candidate who rather obviously doesn’t know how to “pull dem weeds.”
But the real kicker was the effort by Pence to draw a contrast between Trump and the woman he has, on the basis of cooked-up evidence, dubbed crooked Hillary, insisting that the major part of their joint campaign’s “narrow” focus would be its emphasis on integrity. After what we’ve seen of Trump, that bit of boilerplate would always have been amusing, but it’s a real knee-slapper when you hear it uttered only a few days after allegations of illegal campaign contributions and potential quid-pro-quo bribery on the part of Donald Tump have started bubbling up.
It seems that a Trump “charitable” foundation contributed about $25,000 to the campaign of the Florida Attorney General, Pam Bondi, in 2013. The grisly details are summarized in The Hill:
In September 2013, the Florida attorney general’s office announced that it was considering joining a New York state inquiry into Trump University and the flood of consumer complaints from people who felt that they were ripped off by the so-called “university.”
In roughly the same time period, Bondi spoke personally with Trump and solicited a political contribution from him. These facts are all explained in strong detail in an Associated Press report from June of this year.
On Sept. 17, three days after a spokesman for Bondi told the Orlando Sentinel that her office was, indeed, considering joining the Trump U. investigation, a $25,000 check was cut by Trump’s foundation and sent to a committee associated with Bondi’s campaign.
According to a Sentinel report from the time, it was one of the biggest contributions the campaign committee had received. We’ve since learned, thanks to The Washington Post, that the Trump Foundation is a small organization with “no paid staff and relatively little money for a superwealthy man’s personal charity.”
And after the check arrived, Bondi’s office decide not to pursue a case against Trump U., saying there were insufficient grounds to join the New York state probe.
There’s more. Were there no appearance of bribery, tax-exempt charitable foundations can’t legally contribute to political campaigns – and if they do so by mistake they shoudn’t try to cover it up which seems to have happened in this case (Trump paid a $2,500 fine to the IRS). But there’s still more. Over the past few days, Trump has attempted to make light of this story and claimed that he never talked to Florida AG Pam Bondi. That is, as TPM reports, until today:
We’ve been talking over the last couple days about the apparent contradiction between Donald Trump’s statement that he never talked to Pam Bondi about his contribution or Trump University. Now Politico has gone to Trump for clarification. And Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks says there’s no contradiction. “His comments were in reference to any discussion about Trump University — not the donation,” Hicks told Politico.
Yeah, sure. And I want to sell you some beach front property in South Dakota. This is, after all, the guy who, as Hill consultant Jim Roberts observes, “has made it clear he expects favors for his political donations. ‘When I want something I get it. When I call, they kiss my ass.'”
Yet little Mikey, the so-called “happy warrior” (wasn’t that label also applied to Al Smith, a presidential candidate who lost badly?) has the chutzpah to get up before a Missouri audience and feed them blather about how he and his fellow-candidate are going to stand up for integrity? And will Missourian GOPers fall for it? You can bet that they want to.
Of course, I may have gotten it wrong. Maybe Pence didn’t really mean to say that he and Trump were going to campaign on the promise of preserving the integrity of the presidency, but perhaps he was talking about the “aesthetics” of the presidency, as in physically “looking presidential,” an issue that seems to preoccupy The Donald.
*I’ll update with a reference when one becomes available.
UPDATE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that “Pence summed up a Trump presidency as one devoted to security and American integrity and not beholden to special interests.”
UPDATE 2: It looks like Bondi wasn’t the only politician who likely made big bucks off efforts to investigate – or not- the Trump U. scam. Officials in Texas, including Governor Abbott may be implicated in a similar bribery scandal.
Update 3: The Bondi scandal is even worse than it originally appeared. And these degenerates want us to believe they even know what integrity means?