Bloomberg's John Heilemann: Trump’s Foundation ‘Way More Corrupt’ than Clinton's

The media was up in arms Tuesday following an expansive report by The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold, which alleged that Donald Trump used over a quarter of million dollars from his charity to pay for his personal legal problems. Bloomberg’s John Heilemann seemed rather perturbed by the allegations. “It suggests to me that the Trump Foundation, again if these allegations are true, is way more corrupt on the face of it, way more corrupt, than any allegation than the Clinton Foundation is.” Heilemann declared on With All Due Respect.

Heilemann seemed to take great joy the idea of a Trump committing a legal impropriety. “Dude, if this story is true, and the Pam Bondi story … you got a slush fund allegation here, you got a pay for play allegation or closer to a bribery allegation there,” Heilemann stated, counting the ways Trump could find himself in legal trouble.

Co-host Mark Halperin took issue with his description of Trump’s actions as “corrupt,” but Heilemann insisted:

You and I both have issues with the Clinton Foundation, how it has done business. But these two stories, and this one in particular, are gratuitously corrupt. And we should hit hard on the fact that this is a guy that seems to be running a charity in a way to advance both political and business interest, rather than what charities are, in fact, supposed to do. Non-profit.

Halperin made it clear that he didn’t “want to minimize what’s alleged in the story,” but pushed back against his co-host for calling it a form of corruption. “But this does not involve the government, he was not a government official,” Halperin argued, “So I am not sure corruption is the right word, but it is reckless, irresponsible, and selfish what he did.

That is an important distinction Halperin made there, because that is what the Clinton Foundation is accused of. Recently discovered e-mails show how Clinton Foundation donors were able to obtain special meetings with Secretary Hillary Clinton, and the ability to ask for favors. Even though what Trump was alleged to have done is terrible, it is not quite up to par with having access to the US federal government. 

Transcript below:

Bloomberg
With All Due Respect
September 20, 2016
5:06:34 PM Eastern

JOHN HEILEMANN: Now, David Fahrenhold strikes again. The Washington Post reporter who’s been giving Donald Trump a headache by investigating his charitable foundation has a new story out, and it is a doozy. Latest report says Trump spent more than a quarter of a million dollars from his nonprofit to settle lawsuits. Basically reaching agreements with those of suing his private business by donating money to charity. It stead of using his own money, Trump reportedly gave those charities cash that other people had donated to the foundation. Mark, the story suggest that the Trump foundation may have violated laws against self-dealing. There is another word for that, just slush fund. How big a deal could this maybe be?

MARK HALPERIN: I am not minimizing it. It’s another case where he may have to pay fines, and he may have broken the law. The most serious thing to me about this is, Trump hired accountants and lawyers to deal with this foundation, and he is not an expert on the law of governing foundations. But I question the judgment he has in hiring people. Because the lawyers and accountants that allow this, I think should lose their jobs. This is such a bad judgment to do with this story says Trump did. He should have points deducted from his capacity to offer himself to the country as a great leader and a great manager if he hired people that incompetent.

HEILEMANN: Dude, if this story is true, and the Pam Bondi story—which people still are reporting on and trying to figure that out, the pay for play implications— you got a slush fund allegation here, you got a pay for play allegation or closer to a bribery allegation there.

It suggests to me that the Trump Foundation, again if these allegations are true, is way more corrupt on the face of it, way more corrupt, than any allegation than the Clinton Foundation is. Right? You and I both—

Tell the Truth 2016

HALPERIN: I- I- I don’t agree with that.

HEILEMANN: You and I both have issues with the Clinton Foundation, how it has done business. But these two stories, and this one in particular, are gratuitously corrupt. And we should hit hard on the fact that this is a guy that seems to be running a charity in a way to advance both political and business interest, rather than what charities are, in fact, supposed to do. Non-profit.

HALPERIN: I do not want to minimize what’s alleged in the story, and what Trump seems to have done. It is horrible, it’s potentially illegal, it’s bad judgment as I said. The people he did it for him, he should never have hired, and it reflects badly on him. But this does not involve the government, he was not a government official. So I am not sure corruption is the right word, but it is reckless, irresponsible, and selfish what he did. And I’ll say for a third time, someone who would hire accountants and lawyers who would either be that corrupt— or that dishonest I should say or that sloppy I’ve got to question their judgment as a leader.

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