Twice making a typo within the same tweet, President Donald Trump on Monday morning insisted that there wasn’t any “smocking [sic] gun” — or rather, smoking gun — demonstrating he had done anything improper during the 2016 campaign.
Citing a commentary that seemed to opine that the president didn’t perform any acts of wrongdoing, Trump quoted a Fox and Friends segment on the network he watches the most, per reporting from Mediate.
Trump referenced Congressional testimony given by former FBI Director James Comey.
“‘Democrats can’t find a Smocking [sic] Gun tying the Trump campaign to Russia after James Comey’s testimony. No Smocking [sic] Gun…No Collusion,'” Trump quoted a Fox News host as saying. “That’s because there was NO COLLUSION,” Trump added in his first tweet.
He went on to continue to deride the Russia investigation at large, including trying to compare hidden payments he made during the campaign to an innocuous mistake that was performed by the campaign of former President Barack Obama.
“[N]ow the Dems go to a simple private transaction, wrongly call it a campaign contribution… which it was not,” Trump wrote in between his first and second tweet. He added that “even if it was, it is only a CIVIL CASE, like Obama’s” that was done correctly by a lawyer. It was the “[l]awyer’s liability if he made a mistake, not me,” Trump added.
Oh, I don’t think his lawyers will want him offering this public defense of the Daniels/McDougal payments. He is going to talk himself right out of the defense that he didn’t know it was a crime. pic.twitter.com/LM88nq3p7V— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) December 10, 2018
Trump, in invoking Obama, is referencing the Obama campaign’s tardiness in reporting to the Federal Elections Commission campaign contributions that were made in the last 20 days of the 2012 presidential election.
There are key differences between what Obama did and what Trump stands accused of doing, according to reporting done by fact-checking website Snopes.
The current president, for example, stands accused of ordering his then-fixer lawyer Michael Cohen to make payments to women he was allegedly having an affair with and to not report those payments to the FEC as they would have been required to do under the law, according to reporting from the Independent. Those payments were made, some believe, in order to keep them out of the election-year headlines, and thus were performed in order to influence voters’ ideas about a candidate. Such payments, no matter the source, have to be reported.
Yet those payments were never acknowledged in any FEC filing by the Trump campaign — they only came about after Cohen admitted to them as part of a plea arrangement. (It’s also worth noting that Trump has denied having affairs with the two women he allegedly made payments to, but now seems to acknowledge the payments did take place within these two tweets.)
The Obama incident, meanwhile, dealt with 1,300 campaign donations that were made in the last few weeks of his campaign. They were reported to the FEC by his lawyers, but in a delayed manner resulting in a fine. The FEC also found that, while problematic, were not seen as an intentional action.
It’s unclear at this point whether Trump intended to keep his payments hidden or not. His assertion that it was a mistake by his lawyer could very well turn out to be true. Yet bringing Obama’s FEC fines into the mix appears to be an apples-to-oranges comparison.
Toward the end of his tweet, Trump also suggested that Cohen was “just trying to get his sentence reduced,” and that the investigation was a “WITCH HUNT.” The first point may be true, but on the latter point, the jury’s still out.