Why hasn’t the national press and every cable show interviewer asked Donald Trump the following question: “What happened to the $6 million you claimed to have raised for veterans instead of debating your fellow Republicans?”
Can I ask everyone reading this column to call any reporter covering the presidential campaign and your favorite cable channel and insist that he answer, as opposed to the usual evasion and filibuster he’s been able to get away with?
Is everyone’s memory that short? Or is it that Trump is allowed to avoid answering questions while takes up all the time changing the subject?
To recall the background: Fox was scheduled to host a debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28. But when the network refused to back down on Trump’s demand that host Megyn Kelly not participate, because of his pique in a previous debate when Kelly had asked Trump a tough question on his anti-female rhetoric, the real estate mogul announced he would refuse to attend and would instead hold a tribute to veterans at another location.
As he knew would happen, most of the other cable stations covered Trump’s “veteran’s rally” live, and then the mainstream media repeatedly published his claim that he had raised $6 million at the rally. CNN’s report went rhapsodic in its lede: “No one ever really doubted that Donald Trump could pull off a major counter-programing feat — even when competing with a GOP debate that was expected to draw millions of viewers. He did it Thursday night, dazzling a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic supporters by announcing that he had raised more than $6 million for veterans in one day — $1 million from his own checkbook. ‘We love our vets,’ he said.”
Now it is early May, and Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. The same man who disparaged Arizona Sen. John McCain’s heroism when he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for many years by pointing out that he had gotten caught — while also disparaging the heroism of other vets who spent time as POWs — has won headlines and acclaim for raising $6 million while “dazzling” his audience.
At least CNN is following up after its report of the “dazzling” rally. CNN reporter Drew Griffin has been after Trump for a while now to prove he really did raise $6 million; at least one half of it hasn’t been verified. He told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday morning’s “New Day” show that he has been asking veterans charities across the nation about whether they have received any money from Trump, as well as asking the Trump campaign to disclose information about at least $3.1 million, and he still can’t track down all the $6 million.
So far, there’s been no response. Cuomo promised to “stay on it” till he got the answer.
As an admirer of Cuomo’s, I hope and expect he will. And I hope and expect he not accept the billionaire’s usual efforts to escape without answering honestly.
Ted Cruz called Trump “utterly amoral” and a “pathological liar.” Those are Cruz’s words. This is just one example.
Trump insulted John McCain and every other POW. Are any of his supporters outraged about that? Are any vets groups going to take the lead and insist he apologize to McCain and other POWs? Will they demand that he account for the full $6 million he claims to have raised to compete with the Fox debate, and to show proof of that $1 million check he said he wrote?
Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is cofounder of the law firm of “Davis Goldberg & Galper PLLC”, and cofounder of the public relations firm “Trident DMG”. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).