President Trump is rewarding senators that support him on impeachment with bundles of campaign cash, drawing accusations of political bribery.
On Wednesday, Trump’s campaign issued a fundraising appeal to supporters to donate funds that would be equally distributed among Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., all of whom are supporting the resolution [to condemn the House impeachment inquiry] and face tough re-election battles in 2020.
Trump is also expected to host a fundraiser for Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., at an event where guests are being asked to donate up to $100,000, according to Politico, and will speak at an event held by the Senate Leadership Conference, a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
All of those senators co-sponsored the resolution to condemn the impeachment inquiry, while [Senator Susan] Collins, who refused to back the resolution and has criticized his rhetoric on the probe, was snubbed.
Republicans have been largely united in their defense of Trump. Just three senators, Collins, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah, have not signed on to the resolution.
Trump lashed out at Romney on Twitter, prompting McConnell to intervene and persuade Trump to stop attacking senators who would soon decide his fate in an impeachment trial, Politico reported.
Though presidents often raise money for down-ballot races, Trump appearing to tie support on impeachment to fundraising drew allegations of “bribery.”
Richard Painter, who served as White House ethics chief under President George W. Bush and now serves as vice-chair of the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called Trump’s scheme “criminal.”
“This is a bribe,” he tweeted. “Any other American who offered cash to the jury before a trial would go to prison for felony bribery. But he can get away with it?”
“The senators can raise their own campaign cash,” he added. “Any senator who accepts cash from [Trump] before the impeachment trial is guilty of accepting a bribe and should go to the slammer.”