CNN's Jeff Zeleny Says There Is “More Smoke Here” In Trump's Illegal Pam Bondi Donation Than Many Other Controversies

From the September 6 edition of CNN's New Day

Video file

CHRIS CUOMO (CO-HOST): We have like three of the main things. I know we're going to get a lot of heat. You could list eight, nine, 10 different things if you want to call them controversies, but these are main ones. So we have this first one with the money with Pam Bondi. This wound up being about timing, right? And about the mechanism. It went through a charity that wasn't supposed to give political donations, the IRS found out about it, fine them. There's a question about disclosure there. The other question is about why he gave her the money. She said she was going to look at Trump University. Shortly after she said that, she got the money. Shortly after that, she decided not to investigate Trump University. What's the deal? 

JEFF ZELENY: Right. I mean, so it doesn't look very good. And this is one of several examples of attorney generals across the country that were on the verge of looking into something and then stopped. But The Washington Post first reported this and Donald Trump has been saying, look, I didn't talk to her. I didn't know anything about this. But this is really -- we've heard a lot of pay for play allegations about the Clinton Foundation. This is actually an example of there was a contribution and the IRS actually fined him. So this, if we're ranking things, there actually was an action here. Donald Trump said he wasn't involved in it. Didn't know about it. But I think there's a little bit more smoke here than on many of the other controversies that have been going on. 

ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): Also because the Trump Foundation misrepresented this donation to the IRS. They said it was a completely different organization, nonpolitical, and then the IRS figured out, no, it was to Pam Bondi. When we just talked to Katrina Pierson, she said it was a clerical error and they had to pay 10 percent of the contribution as a fine for that clerical error.

ZELENY: OK, maybe it was a clerical error but again it's more smoke here than on many of the other controversies, again, do any voters care about this? Not necessarily. But this is one where there actually -- again The Washington Post reported this. This is one I think there actually is an issue there. It does not look good and there is a bit of a trail there. 

CUOMO: By the way, Bondi is not the only one. In Texas, a state regulator says he was ordered in 2010 to drop a fraud investigation into Trump University for political reasons. You can go online and look at that. 

CAMEROTA: And there was a $35,000 donation to now governor of Texas that may have been connected to that. 

CUOMO: Donations came after the suggestion. So connecting the two may be difficult, but again it's there.


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