Eichenwald noted that during a Republican presidential primary debate, Trump challenged opponent Jeb Bush’s claim that Trump donated money to him because he “wanted casino gambling in Florida,” saying that the charge was “Totally false.” But, as Eichenwald explained, in a 2007 deposition that was part of a lawsuit pertaining to Trump’s attempted “expansion of his casino business into Florida,” Trump stated that he “spoke with Governor-Elect Bush; I had a big fundraiser for Governor-Elect Bush” and that he “thought [Bush] could be convinced” to allow gambling in Florida. The conflicting accounts led Eichenwald to conclude that “One of these stories is a lie.” From the September 23 Newsweek article (bolds original):
Donald Trump committed perjury. Or he looked into the faces of the Republican faithful and knowingly lied. There is no third option.
Trump had been boasting for weeks at his rallies that he knew the political system better than anyone, because he had essentially bought off politicians for decades by giving them campaign contributions when he wanted something. He also proclaimed that only he—as an outsider who had participated in such corruption of American democracy at a high level—could clean it up. During the September 2015 debate, one of Trump’s rivals, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, verified Trump’s claim, saying the billionaire had tried to buy him off with favors and contributions when he was Florida’s governor.
"The one guy that had some special interests that I know of that tried to get me to change my views on something—that was generous and gave me money—was Donald Trump,” Bush said. “He wanted casino gambling in Florida."
Trump interrupted Bush:
Trump: I didn’t—
Bush: Yes, you did.
Trump: Totally false.
Bush: You wanted it, and you didn’t get it, because I was opposed to—
Trump: I would have gotten it.
Bush: Casino gambling before—
Trump: I promise, I would have gotten it.
If Trump was telling the truth that night, so be it. But if he was lying, what was his purpose? His “If I wanted it, I would have gotten it,” line may be a hint. Contrary to his many vague stories on the campaign trail about being a cash-doling political puppet master, this story has a name, a specific goal and ends in failure. If Bush was telling the truth, then Trump would have had to admit he lost a round and, as he assured the audience, that would not have happened. When he wants something, he gets it.
But that wasn’t the point he needed to make in 2007. The deposition was part of a lawsuit he’d filed against Richard Fields, who Trump had hired to manage the expansion of his casino business into Florida. In the suit, Trump claimed that Fields had quit and taken all of the information he obtained while working for Trump to another company. Under oath, Trump said he did want to get into casino gambling in Florida but didn’t because he had been cheated by Fields.
Trump must be called upon to answer the troubling questions raised by the episode regarding Bush and gambling in Florida: Is the Republican nominee a perjurer or just a liar? If he refuses to answer—just as he has refused to address almost every other question about his character and background—Trump supporters must carefully consider whether they want to vote for a man who at best has treated them like fools over the past year, and who at worst, committed a crime.