CNN's Jeff Zeleny Highlights Trump's History Of “Breaking Campaign Finance Laws” And “Evading” Legal Donation Limits

Zeleny: “Trump Has Often Railed Against ... A Rigged Political System” But “He's Been Part Of This System For A Very Long Time”

From the September 7 edition of CNN's New Day:

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JEFF ZELENY: Donald Trump has often railed against what he calls a rigged political system. This morning, a fresh reminder that he's been part of the system for a long time. It's this $25,000 donation from his foundation to the Florida attorney general that's receiving fresh scrutiny, because it came just as her office was set to review allegations of fraud at Trump University. Now, foundations, of course, are not allowed to make such political contributions. So he was slapped with a $2,500 fine by the IRS. The Clinton campaign back on offense this morning, with Hillary and Bill Clinton raising all of this and his unwillingness to release his tax returns.


HILLARY CLINTON: Truly, the list goes on and on with the scams, the frauds, the questionable relationships, the business activities that have stiffed workers, refused to pay small businesses. So clearly, his tax returns tell a story that the American people deserve and need to know.

BILL CLINTON: I got tickled the other day when Mr. Trump called my foundation a criminal enterprise. He made a political contribution to the attorney general of Florida, who at the time had her office investigating Trump University. And mysteriously, the investigation vanished. 


ZELENY: Now, Trump says he never discussed this case with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi or anyone. Now, she says this morning she was not considering investigating him, but in fact her office was. But a comment he made last summer is still resonating. He said this, “When you give, they do whatever the hell you want them to do.” That is a reference to his political contributions for more than three decades which, Alisyn, includes a laundry list of evading limits and in some cases breaking campaign finance laws. 

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): The New York Times this morning lays it out just as you have. They have examples of different donations that he has given. So, is this a loophole that he has found? Or are these actual legal violations? 

ZELENY: In some cases they're legal violations and he has been fined by the local entities, largely here in New York City. We can look at a list of some of them, I believe. In 1985, he evaded a limit by 18 subsidiary companies there. In 1990s, he was fined for exceeding limits by nearly $50,000. 

CAMEROTA: Right, illegal.

ZELENY: And 2000, fined $250,000 by New York. And then, of course, it's these tens of thousands of dollars to four attorneys general, two Republicans, two Democrats, looking into Trump University. So it certainly takes away any veneer of thefact that he is, A, new to the political system, and, B, sort of would change the system because in fact he's been a part of this system for a very long time. 

CAMEROTA: And it certainly continues this pay-to-play conversation that we have been having for a few weeks now. 

ZELENY: And it's on both sides. But in his case, there are actual examples of where he's been charged with doing so. In the Clinton Foundation there have been simply allegations by him, but we have found no smoking gun.


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