As Donald Trump walked out of his press briefing this afternoon, having only taken a few brief questions from friendly right-wing reporters whom he knew wouldn’t challenge him, one lone reporter shouted out the question many of had been waiting for him to be asked.
Only those few people still tuned into the C-Span feed as the president exited — after spending a considerable portion of his briefing attacking the character of newly minted Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) as “the meanest, the most horrible, most disrespectful” person in the US Senate — heard the reporter shout an extremely pertinent question towards the departing bulk of ignorance and antipathy slithering back to the inner sanctums of the White House.
That question was something along the lines of “If Kamala Harris is as bad as you say she is, why did you donate money to her campaign for California Attorney General?”
Other journalists were also anxious to hear the answer to that query, judging by the quick interjection of “Yeah, $6000!” by an offscreen voice as C-Span cut the cameras and radio from the briefing room.
Indeed, according to public records accessed by The Sacramento Bee, both Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka, donated to Harris’ campaign coffers in the early part of the decade when the TV reality show host had yet to reveal his presidential ambitions.
“In 2011 and again in 2013, Trump donated a total of $6,000 to Harris’ campaign for California attorney general. His daughter, Ivanka, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014,” the newpaper wrote this past March.
Just because Trump donated money to Kamala back then doesn’t mean that he is a formerly flaming liberal who had a sudden turn to the dark side.
His first contribution to the Harris campaign came when he had already embarked on his racist claims that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States and therefore ineligible for the presidency.
“The first donation from Trump, for $5,000 in September 2011, came months after he had begun popping up on cable news promoting a conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, something that’s been widely condemned as racist,” The Sacrament Bee revealed.
While it may seem surprising to find out that the president had donated money to the woman whom he spent so much time attacking at his press conference this afternoon, when you realize that Trump’s attitude towards politics is as transactional as his business dealings, you can understand it as a move akin to paying off all the cops when you open up a new nightclub to ensure that you won’t have any sudden problems after you open.
While it’s difficult to know if there was a particular favor Trump was looking for in his early support of the then-California Attorney General, you can be assured that the notoriously cheap Trump wouldn’t be handing out campaign contributions without an expectation of some sort of favor to eventually be called in.
For her part, Kamala Harris told the newspaper through a spokesperson that she had donated Trump’s six grand to a “non-profit that advocates for civil and human rights for Central Americans. But that donation wasn’t made until 2015, a year after she won her reelection for attorney general and as she was launching her run for the Senate.”
Hopefully, someone will get a chance to ask the president about his donations to his rival’s partner at his next press availability.
It won’t be nearly as much fun now that he knows the question is coming and his aides will be preparing a canned reply, but perhaps someone can catch him unawares and watch the sparks fly.
Original reporting by Emily Cadei at The Sacrament Bee.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.