Trump, the logic goes, isn't.
These [lobbyists] are not people who are doing it because they like the color of his hair, believe me. These are highly sophisticated killers. And when they give five million dollars, or two million, or a million to Jeb, they have him just like a puppet. He'll do whatever they want. He is their puppet. Believe me.
Then Trump went on to tell a story about how the lobbyists are trying to give him money, too. This is important, so we'll quote the whole thing.
I had yesterday a lobbyist call me up. It's a friend of mine. Good guy. Smart as hell. He's for his client. I don't blame him. He said, 'Donald, I want to put five million dollars into your campaign.' I said, 'I don't need it; I don't want it.' He said, 'No, no, I want to put five million in...'
I said, 'I don't want it. Because when you come back to me in two years and you want help for a company that you're representing, or a country that you're representing, I'm going to do the right thing for the people of the United States, and I don't want to have to insult you. So honestly, I appreciate it, I don't want your five million dollars.' I'm turning down so much money. But if he put it up, I'd feel obligated, because I'm a loyal person.
So that's the argument. Trump won't take money because he would feel obligated to donors.
And here's the big one: Trump is also apparently helping a super PAC, Make America Great Again PAC, raise money that it will be spent on his behalf.
Make America Great Again is registered to a P.O. Box in Midtown Manhattan. But Trump attended a fundraiser for the PAC last month, Politico reported on Monday. Held at a home in Manhattan, Trump reportedly spoke to a small group of people. How much the group raised isn't clear, but the family of his daughter, Ivanka, apparently gave $100,000 at some point.
So ... is Trump not "obligated" to those donors? If one gives $5 million, $2 million, $1 million dollars, do those donors have Trump just like a "puppet," because he's loyal?
You might say, well, Trump was saying that the donors give to Bush; this is an instance in which donors are giving to a PAC. Except that the only million-dollar-plus donations heading anywhere near Bush are also going to his PACs. His campaign can't accept them -- or anything close to it. Bush's campaign raised $11.4 million in the second quarter, in legally limited chunks of money. His Right to Rise PAC -- legally distinct from the candidate -- raised $103 million, including a lot of big checks. So if Bush is beholden to those big donors, so logically would be Trump.
We'll note, by the way, that Trump's response to the guy who wanted to give the $5 million could also have been about how the guy was pushing Trump into tricky legal territory. Trump can ask donors to give to the PAC, but only within the federal limit to which his campaign is also subject. If a donor -- especially a lobbyist -- asked Trump if he should give $5 million to the PAC, that's a tricky spot to be in.
But really, this just doesn't make sense. Trump has explicitly argued that he doesn't need money and that he'd feel beholden to anyone who gave a big check. Yet he's helping a group raise precisely the sort of money that he excoriates when given to others. He's in the room, seeing who's there. He'll know who gave -- even if their names weren't going to be on disclosure forms (which they are).
Whether or not Make America Great Again PAC raises much money remains to be seen. If it raises a lot, though, it's very fair to ask: Why isn't Trump their puppet?