Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday morning that campaign violations are “no big deal,” then insisted he didn’t commit any anyway, the Evening Standard is reporting.
Trump began Saturday morning with a series of tweets aimed at a variety of topics that were on his mind, including thanking rapper Kanye West for his “kind words”, the bi-partisan criminal justice reform bill that was recently passed, border security, and his thoughts on the ongoing government shutdown.
For reasons that remain unclear, it seems that allegations of campaign violations were on his mind Saturday morning as well, according to this tweet.
“Many people currently a part of my opposition, including President Obama & the Dems, have had campaign violations, in some cases for very large sums of money. These are civil cases. They paid a fine & settled. While no big deal, I did not commit a campaign violation!”
Trump is correct in asserting that Barack Obama has been hit with a campaign violation, and indeed, it was for a very large sum of money.
Back in 2013, as Politico reported at the time, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) levied a $375,000 fine against Barack Obama’s 2018 campaign – at the time one of the largest such fines ever handed down.
— New York Post (@nypost) January 4, 2019
The fine was the result of several violations having to do with the way certain contributions were reported, or were not reported. In essence, the campaign had failed to properly report, in the right way and in the right period of time, certain individual contributions from various donors. There were also a handful of record-keeping errors, and instances in which the campaign didn’t return improper donations.
Similarly, Joe Biden was also fined $219,000 for campaign violations, as CNN reported in 2010. Specifically, the Biden 2008 campaign was found to have committed several offenses, including taking improper donations, failing to pay for travel on a private jet, and issuing checks that were never cashed.
As to whether or not campaign violations are “no big deal,” that is, of course, a matter of opinion. But in 2010, when the Biden campaign fines were handed down, Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander said that the FEC meticulously audits presidential campaigns, and often finds various things that were done improperly.
“Some repayment is commonplace after presidential campaign audits and the repayment ordered here is relatively small.”
However, the possible campaign crimes being investigated by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller involve much more than routine paperwork errors and failures in proper oversight. Mueller is specifically investigating whether or not a foreign government – Russia – improperly influenced the 2016 election, and whether or not the Trump campaign operated in collusion with the Russians.