During the campaign of 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama had his staff offer Rev. Jeremiah Wright $150,000 so as not to embarrass him.
During the campaign of 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump had his lawyer offer porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stop publicizing their affair and remain silent during the campaign so as not to embarrass him.
What’s the difference?
Why is Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer who made the offer, on his way to prison while Obama’s unidentified staffer has gone without so much as a slap on the wrist?
Why did a special prosecutor raid the offices of Trump’s lawyer to get the details of his offer to the porn star while there was no effort, by any prosecutor, to investigate Obama’s behavior?
And why is Trump facing impeachment for violating campaign finance laws with his payment while Obama did not get so much as a fine?
The report of the offer to Rev. Wright first surfaced in the book “The Amateur” by Ed Klein. He recounts an interview with Rev. Wright after the controversy about his anti-American remarks surfaced (in which he said 9/11 was just the “chickens coming home to roost” and “God-damn America.”)
“After the media went ballistic on me,” Wright told Klein, “I received an e-mail offering me money not to preach at all until the November presidential election.”
“Who sent the e-mail?” Klein asked Wright.
“It was from one of Barack’s closest friends.”
“He offered you money?”
“Not directly,” Wright said. “He sent the offer to one of the members of the church, who sent it to me.”
“How much money did he offer you?”
“One hundred and fifty thousand dollars,” Wright said.
“Did Obama himself ever make an effort to see you?” Klein asked.
“Yes,” Wright said. “Barack said he wanted to meet me in secret, in a secure place….And one of the first things Barack said was, ‘I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election.’ He knew I had some speaking engagements lined up, and he said, ‘I wish you wouldn’t speak. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.’”
“And what did you say?” Klein asked.
Wright replied: “I said, ‘I don’t see it that way. And anyway, how am I supposed to support my family?’”
The answer came a few days later with the offer of $150,000, clearly a bribe to be silent.
We have no confirmation that Obama’s staff or campaign committee actually paid Wright the bribe. The investigation never went that far. After all, the potential offender was a Democrat, Obama, and not a Republican, Trump.
I am grateful to my good friend Wayne Allen Root, a noted talk show host for suggesting this parallel to me.
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