Pay-To-Play? No Regrets Here
There are some brilliant legal minds in this country, but it's a pretty safe bet that Pam Bondi will never be mistaken for having one of them.
Bondi has been somewhat missing from public view since the controversy arose over her lack of investigating Trump University complaints after she asked for a donation from Donald Trump and soon received one, unless you count her campaign appearances on behalf of Trump and her trip to the RNC on behalf of Trump this summer.
Well, today she emerged from hiding for a cabinet meeting and was asked about her little Trump University problem.
Attorney General Pam Bondi says she doesn’t regret asking for and receiving a campaign donation from Donald Trump, even though it’s embroiled her in a controversy over how she handled complaints against a real estate investment seminar he ran that attendants say swindled them of thousands of dollars.
“No, because there was not an investigation, at all,” Bondi said when asked if she regretted taking the Trump donation. “There was not an investigation into Donald Trump.”
Bondi didn't decide there would be no investigation into Trump University until after she had Trump's check in hand, of course. That was after she asked him for the donation. (Bondi also got an additional donation from Trump's daughter Ivanka around the same time, and Trump held subsequent fundraisers for Bondi.) So I'm not really sure why she believes this explanation helps her, unless she thinks people are stupid. I doubt those Floridians who lost money to Trump University and complained will accept the explanation either.
But Bondi does have at least one regret, which she also conveyed at her press appearance:
She said her only regret was not explaining herself to the media sooner.
“You know what I wish I had done was come out in front of all of you early on and say – I guess I just knew there was nothing improper,” Bondi said.
In the past, Bondi has claimed that she didn't know about complaints filed against Trump University until after she got the $25,000 donation that she asked for from Trump. But her office was aware of the complaints before she asked Trump for the money, and she chose not to investigate after she received it. So in light of that, how could Bondi, "I guess," know that nothing was improper as she said above?
The Orlando Sentinel has extensive reporting on the entire controversy, but they summarized the timeline in today's story:
Bondi’s political committee, And Justice for All, posted a $25,000 donation from Trump’s charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation on Sept. 17, 2013. Four days earlier, the Orlando Sentinel reported her office was reviewing a case filed in New York against Trump University. Her office later decided not to join the New York suit. Subsequent complaints were forwarded to other departments or told to join the New York case.
Bondi said she asked Trump for the donation because she was campaigning for reelection. She didn’t find out about the complaints filed with her office about Trump University and another entity, the Trump Institute, until October, she said.
But her top staffers were emailing about the complaints in September 2013 in response to inquiries from the Orlando Sentinel.
She also defended her office’s response to the matter, saying there was only one complaint at the time she received the donation. But there were many more complaints filed with her predecessor, Bill McCollum, before she took office, including one filed the day before she was sworn in on Jan. 4, 2011.
Bondi also claimed she was prohibited from returning the money.
When asked if she will resign, Bondi says nope.
“Absolutely not, I am proud to be Attorney General and I have two years left, I’m termed out. And I have always said I only want to be Attorney General,” Bondi said.
Two years leaves plenty of time to do more damage to Floridians, especially considering Bondi's record at it so far, unless one of the many calls for an investigation into Bondi's role in ignoring Trump University begins looking past Bondi's laughable excuses for ignoring Floridians' complaints in favor of Trump.
In the meantime, since she still has those two years left, what's stopping her from investigating Trump and Trump University now?
UPDATE: According to Politico, Bondi also stated at today's press conference: “Donald Trump did not get a pass,” and she also stated she didn’t return the check because it would have looked as if it were a bribe:
“If I had returned it you would have reported ‘Bondi accepted a bribe, got caught and returned it.’ That's how the reporting goes,” Bondi said. “And so, no, there was nothing improper about it. So there was no reason to return it.”
But that statement doesn't match up with what Bondi's accountant said in the past. Back in June of this year (and as I wrote above), it was reported that Bondi did indeed try to return the Trump donation but it was not accepted.
It seems Pam Bondi is having a lot of trouble keeping her stories straight. No wonder she's been avoiding any discussion with or questions from the press about it.