The former President Donald Trump reportedly offered a US Senator money to drop the Spygate investigation relating to the Patriots.
According to a report from Don Van Natta Jr. and Seth Wickersham of ESPN, then-future President Donald Trump offered U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter a payment to shut down the federal investigation surrounding the New England Patriots videotaping scandal. The affair was originally reported by the New York Jets after the opening week of the 2007 season.
Specter, who passed away in 2012, called for an independent investigation into the scandal after expressing dissatisfaction with the NFL’s response, which involved league officials destroying the tapes in question. New England head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 while the Patriots were fined $250,000 as a team and docked their regularly scheduled first-round pick in the 2008 Draft (31st overall).
New information from Charles Robbins, a Specter-affiliated communications aide and ghostwriter of two of his books, states that Trump intervened on behalf of his close friend and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Robbins previously revealed in the latter boom, entitled “Life Among the Cannibals,” a mutual friend of both Kraft and Specter approached the lawmaker, offered “a lot of money in Palm Beach … if (Specter) laid off the Patriots.”
Palm Beach, FL is the site of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s primary residence that he would use as a Winter White House during his Presidential term (2017-21). Trump had been a donor to Specter’s political campaigns, totaling $11,300 over three decades, per the ESPN report. Kraft moved to the area in the 1990s and built a friendship with Trump, who was a regular supporter of the Patriots’ championship endeavors throughout the decade.
Robbins, who is “pretty darn sure” the offer was made by Trump, said that Specter “couldn’t care less” about such a payment. At the time, Trump and his brands were enjoying a resurgence in popularity through his starring role on the NBC reality television series The Apprentice.
Specter’s son Shanin is more convinced that Trump was the anonymous mutual friend.
“My father told me that Trump was acting as a messenger for Kraft,” Shanin Specter said in the ESPN report. “But I’m equally sure the reference to money in Palm Beach was campaign contributions, not cash. The offer was Kraft assisting with campaign contributions. … My father said it was Kraft’s offer, not someone else’s.
“He told me about the call in the wake of the conversation and his anger about it. … My father was upset when (these conversations) would happen because he felt as if it were tantamount to a bribe solicitation, though the case law on this subject says it isn’t.”
Jason Miller, a Trump senior adviser, denied Trump’s connection to the case.
“This is completely false,” Miller said. “We have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags