This week the Senate Republicans entered defense mode in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The first charges against him involve attempts to “coerce,” “solicit,” “persuade,” “lean on” (choose one) Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to stir up trouble for his rival, Joe Biden.
The defense team they’ve assembled is quite impressive: there’s the “celebrity lawyer,” Alan Dershowitz, and the world traveler, Rudy Giuliani. Avuncular Ken Starr investigated Bill Clinton and was once labeled “a lunatic” by Trump. And there are several others, not as famous; but none are so intriguing as the former Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi.
In that role, she worked to help health insurance companies boost their charges for pre-existing conditions, a ripoff prohibited by the Affordable Care Act. She was was strongly censured for some paid appearances on Fox News because Florida newspapers felt side gigs aren’t right for a sitting high state official. She also worked against LBGT rights, prisoner’s rights and cleaning up pollution.
The Trump legal team brought her on in November “to help manage the messaging” around this impeachment business. But I don’t believe it. She’s kept a low profile and for good reason. Her expertise is in an matter the Republicans do not want mentioned: bribery. It’s the very smelly elephant in the chamber.
And why is Bondi supremely suited to advise Trump’s team about this crime? Because she knows how to get away with it, and a lawyer like that you surely want on your team. You see, seven years ago, when she was Florida’s attorney general, The Trump Foundation gave her $25,000 to stall legal proceedings against the fraudulent Trump University. It was illegal for Trump to use his charitable foundation for a campaign donation and it was illegal for Bondi to cash the check.
But guess what? She got away with it. No indictment. No fine. Just a flurry of a scandal, soon forgot.
Trump was not so lucky; a raft of former students, furious over being swindled, sued him for “illegal business practices.” After years of stonewalling he paid out $25 million to settle and Trump University was finished. Late last year, a New York court ordered the Trump Foundation dissolved as well. It was apparent the entity was a piggy bank, not a charitable foundation. That cost Trump more money.
But Pam Bondi: She’s magic and they hope she can repeat her trick with Trump in tow, cause they’ve done this dance before. Now if they can just adjust a few steps, maybe he’ll skate.