‘Exact Same Thing!’: Fox & Friends Falsely Compares Trump’s Potential Campaign Crimes to Obama’s
Fox & Friends once again demonstrated why they are President Donald Trump’s favorite show on Monday morning, with a segment that amplified his undermining of the investigation Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and the recent filings made by the Southern District of New York.
Featuring the consistently full-throated White House defender Dan Bangino, the discussion was focused on criticism of court filings released on Friday, one of which identified Trump as having directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to spend more than $100,000 in hush money to keep adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal quiet about their alleged affairs in the run-up to the 2016 general election.
Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade noted the Trump Organization’s secret payments to these two women, but notably omitted the alleged extramarital affairs, instead providing this charitable description: “These were two women coming forward…they were going to say negative things about the president and relations.”
He then pivoted to the 2008 campaign finance problems faced by the Obama campaign.
“According to everybody’s staffs in 2008, Barack Obama’s campaign spent nearly 2 million in illegal — in violation of election law,” Kilmeade said. “They got a fine of $300,000. But you want to throw this president in jail about payments to women that he may or may not have known a dwarfed the $2 million? We should just accept that?”
Bongino agreed, adding: “The Barack Obama team was guilty of the exact same thing and was given a civil fine of I think it was $375,000.”
No, the Obama campaign finance issues were not the “exact same thing” as what is alleged in the Michael Cohen court filings.
Obama’s 2008 campaign committee was fined by the Federal Election Commission for violating campaign reporting requirements in the weeks leading up to Election Day. Under federal election law, campaigns must file special notices to the FEC of last-minute contributions of $1,000 or more that are received in the final weeks before Election Day.
In April of 2012, an FEC campaign audit found that the Obama campaign did not disclose the identities of over 1,300 donors, which represented roughly $1.8 million in campaign resources. These donations comprised only .0025% of the $778 million raised. Campaign experts noted that these were a relatively minor oversight given the vast volume of donations in 2008.
Former Republican FEC chairman Michael Toner told Reuters at the time that “overall, this is a very clean audit report for the Obama campaign. The FEC spent two years picking over $750 million in contributions and expenses and found one violation.”
In comparison, Trump created a shell company to pay off a porn star from disclosing an extramarital affair weeks before a presidential election. Donald Trump’s own Department of Justice filed documents that, as former Solicitor General Neal Katyal has called “incredibly damning.” Numerous legal experts have noted that the SDNY documents basically claimed that Trump ordered or directed the commission of felonies.
As the New York Times notes, what’s so striking about the Cohen sentencing memo is that it effectively accuses the president of seeking to sway the 2016 election through illegal payments:
The prosecutors made clear in a sentencing memo filed on Friday that they viewed efforts by Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to squelch the stories as nothing less than a perversion of a democratic election — and by extension they effectively accused the president of defrauding voters, questioning the legitimacy of his victory.
These are simply allegations at this point, and yes, Trump’s campaign did not report the hush money. So in the smallest of ways, there is some comparison between the two. But to say that secretly paying of hush money for former paramours just weeks before the election is the “exact same thing” as failing to report 1 in 400 donors can fairly be described as willingly misinforming an audience that is willfully eager for misinformation.
Watch the segment above, courtesy of Fox News.
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