CNN’s Alisyn Camerota called out Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s 30-plus year history of illegally tampering with the political process when his surrogate and GOP Rep. Chris Collins (NY) appeared on New Day Wednesday.
Camerota was discussing Trump’s possibly illegal donations to Florida Republican Attorney Gen. Pam Bondi, who dropped the state’s investigation into Trump University after receiving the money.
Last week, the Trump Foundation agreed to pay an IRS fine of $2,500 for its donation of $25,000 to Bondi’s re-election campaign.
“Congressman,” Camerota said, “don’t you think the American public cares about breaking the law?”
“Well, these are technicalities in many cases,” Collins said, “as he pointed out on the recent Bondi one. He was solicited for a donation, he told his clerk to do it. She wrote it out of the wrong checking account.”
He tried to pivot and attack Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, saying, “Donald Trump has been on the donating side. You make donations to get the ear of somebody that you would like to speak with. That’s part of what goes on in politics. It is the dirty side of politics. Clinton has been on the receiving end.”
In reply, Camerota presented Collins with a list of Trump’s shady campaign dealings dating back to 1985.
“Let’s look back,” she said, pointing out that in 1985, Trump was caught exceeding legal campaign donation limits by funneling funds through 18 subsidiary companies, which is technically legal, but is essentially a corporate version of the crime that sent right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza to federal prison.
He was fined in the 1990s for exceeding legal campaign donation limits again by more than $50,000. Then, in 2000, the state of New York fined Trump $250,000 for illegally concealing his lobbying activities.
And currently, Bondi is not the only state attorney general to whom Trump has donated in his efforts to defray the scandal over “Trump University,” which the New York attorney general’s office bluntly called “a fraud from beginning to end” on Tuesday.
“Isn’t this the very definition of payola?” Camerota asked. “Payola is the practice of bribing someone to use their influence to promote your particular interest. How does this differ?”
Collins essentially confirmed this, saying that Trump has always been “on the donating side” again, and justifying it by saying that “He has said you make donations at times to get the ear of somebody you’d like to speak with. That’s part of what goes on in politics. It’s the dirty side of politics, everyone knows that.”
“Clinton’s been on the receiving end,” he reiterated.
“But not illegally,” Camerota said. “That’s the big difference, Congressman. Nothing illegal.”
Watch the interview:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 7, 2016