Do you remember when Donald Trump said he was so rich he can't be bought?
This was a great point of pride for Trump when he announced in June 2015 that he was running for President.
I don't need anybody's money. It's nice. I don't need anybody's money.
I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists. I'm not using donors. I don't care. I'm really rich.
You know what the nice part about me? I don't need anybody's money. I mean, if a woman sends me the $7, I take it because that's great, because she's investing in this country in a proper way, not an improper way. But I don't need the money. It's a beautiful thing. So, if I say that I don't want Ford building in this case in Mexico or somewhere else, in all fairness, China, I want them to build here, I am not going to be hit by the Ford lobby and by all the other lobbies that you know who they are better than I do. They're not going to hit me. Because they didn't give ten cents to my campaign because I don't want their money. So, it's very important.
He repeated the theme that he couldn't be bought before the New Hampshire primary in February 2016. (See video here)
One person who couldn't buy Trump was Sheldon Adelson. The Hill reported in November 2015 that Trump had reached out to multibillionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson for support. An unnamed source told the Hill that Trump had asked Adelson for money, but Trump emphatically denied this. In fact, Trump had prevously mocked Adelson and Marco Rubio because Rubio wanted donations from Adelson.
Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to Rubio because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet. I agree!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
Trump reiterated his "I'm-too-rich-to-be-bought" theme when he told attendees at Republican Jewish Coalition in December, "You’re not going to support me because I don’t want your money. If I wanted your money, I think I’d have a damned good chance. You know the money I have turned down?"
I can understand why Donald Trump would not want to appear to be bought by anyone, and especially not by Sheldon Adelson. After all, Adelson once said the U.S. should start nuclear talks with Iran by dropping a nuclear weapon on an Iranian desert and then threatening to nuke Tehran if Iran did not give us everything we wanted.
Adelson, a close personal friend of Bibi Netanyahu denies that the Palestinians are a legitimate people. He also doesn't care if Israel loses its democratic nature if that's what it takes to keep Jews in power despite the fact that Palestinians may soon outnumber Jews within what was the Palestinian Mandate.
I don’t think the Bible says anything about democracy. I think God didn’t say anything about democracy. God talked about all the good things in life. He didn’t talk about Israel remaining as a democratic state, otherwise Israel isn’t going to be a democratic state — so what?
Perhaps Trump pledged not to take Adelson's money because Adelson is an Israel Firster. He proved that he would put Israel's interests ahead of U.S. interests when he said that he wished he had served in the IDF instead of the U.S. military and when he went on to say that he hoped his son would serve as a sniper in the IDF. (See this video starting at 5:05)
But I'm guessing that's not the reason why Trump said that he doesn't want Adelson's money. I'm guessing he didn't want Adelson's money because he saw negotiating an end to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as the ultimate deal--a deal that only HE had even a remote possibility of negotiating. This explains why, in February 2016 he said that he wanted to be seen as a "neutral guy". Here is an excerpt from a February town hall meeting.
SCARBOROUGH: Whose fault do you think it is (inaudible)
TRUMP: You know, I don’t want to get into it.
SCARBOROUGH: You think Israelis or the Palestinians?
TRUMP: I don’t want to get into it for a different reason, Joe, because if I do win, you know, there has to be a certain amount of surprise, unpredictability. Our country has no unpredictability. If I win, I don’t want to be in a position where I’m saying to you and the other side, now say, “We don’t want Trump involved, we don’t want” — let me be sort of a neutral guy, let’s see what — I’m going to give it a shot. It would be so great; I would be so proud if I could do that.
Trump defended his neutrality pledge when he took heat from his rivals during the February 25 GOP debate--then he immediately contradicted it.
As president, however, there's nothing that I would rather do to bring peace to Israel and its neighbors generally. And I think it serves no purpose to say that you have a good guy and a bad guy.
Now, I may not be successful in doing it. It's probably the toughest negotiation anywhere in the world of any kind. OK? But it doesn't help if I start saying, "I am very pro-Israel, very pro, more than anybody on this stage." But it doesn't do any good to start demeaning the neighbors, because I would love to do something with regard to negotiating peace, finally, for Israel and for their neighbors.
And I can't do that as well -- as a negotiator, I cannot do that as well if I'm taking big, big sides. With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.
So Trump was a bit wishy washy about his neutrality pledge. He tried to have his cake and eat it too. He obviously felt that he had to be seen as at least leaning a bit toward Israel. Otherwise, he would alienate too many Republican voters. And he had to at least appear somewhat neutral. Otherwise, negotiations would be dead before arrival. And finally, he HAD to know that accepting money from someone like Adelson would make it look like he could be bought and that he was extremely anti-Palestinian.
Rachel Maddow did a segment with many more clips of Trump explaining in more detail why it was such a big deal that he couldn't be bought. This was a theme that he heavily emphasized over and over again. And then, Maddow provided irrefutable proof that theDonald was going back on his pledge. Evidently, Trump couldn't be bought during the primaries, but when it came to the general election he stuck a big "FOR SALE" sign on his lawn. This piece by Maddow is long, but I HIGHLY recommend it. If you don't have time to watch the whole thing, then at least watch between 10:20 and 13:30.
And that's not the only pledge Trump reneged on. On May 3 the Daily Mail broke the story that Trump said Israel needs to build MORE settlements. This is a BIG deal. Not only does it destroy Trump's pledge to try to remain at least somewhat neutral so that he could be seen as an honest broker between the Palestinians and the Israelis, it reverses nearly 50 years of U.S. policies towards Israel and it goes against world opinion. Most of the rest of the world sees what Israel is doing in the West Bank as a brutal occupation and a violation of international law. And rightfully so. Even Israel's own lawyer, Theodor Meron, wrote a top secret memo for Israel's Foreign Ministry saying that civilian settlements in the "administered territories" would violate the Fourth Geneva Convention. In 2012, Israel commissioned a report by Edmond Levy that--surprise-surprise--concluded that settlements in the West Bank did not violate international law. Buried within that report, however was an acknowledgment that the International Commission of the Red Cross was the authoritative body for interpreting the Fourth Geneva Convention. Too bad for Israel and its settlement-building supporters that Juan Pedro Schaerer, head of the ICRC delegation for Israel and the Occupied Territories, gutted the Levy Report and stated that
Contrary to what the Levy report maintains, from the viewpoint of international law the West Bank is occupied by Israel. This assertion, like the ICRC's position that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are unlawful, is based entirely on the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law.
Not only does Trump's new position encourage Israel to violate international law, it reverses American policy towards the settlements dating back to 1967. The Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations flat out stated the settlements were illegal under international law. Every Administration since Reagan's did not address the legality of the settlements, but they discouraged settlements as an obstacle towards peace and/or said they were illegitimate. Trump's would be the first administration to actually encourage settlements.
There is one more question we need to address. Now that Trump has reversed his position and is accepting donations, we need to figure out who he is accepting donations from. On May 5, just two days after Trump announced his support for settlement building, Sheldon Adelson said he would be supporting Trump. Now, I don't want to say there was a quid pro quo here. Adelson said he had not spoken to Trump for a while. And Trump had previously said he would welcome Adelson's support but not his money. So it is possible that Adelson isn't giving money to Trump's campaign. But given that Trump has reversed course and is now soliciting money for his campaign and given that Adelson gave $150 million to support the campaigns of Mitt Romney and several GOP senatorial candidates in 2012 and vowed to double that in 2016, it is hard to believe that Adelson isn't either giving money directly to Trump's campaign or supporting it indirectly through PACs. And though Adelson probably never explicitly told Trump that he would give a huuuuuuuge donation to Trump's campaign if Trump gave further settlement expansion the green light, Trump is no dummy. He had to have known that his pledge to remain neutral would not fly with Adelson and that his endorsement of settlement expansion would make Adelson happier than a rat in a restaurant's dumpster.
So I leave the question up to you. Did Donald Trump sell his soul to Sheldon Adelson?
Update 7/2/16: On May 13, The New York Times reported that Sheldon Adelson said he was ready to give up to $100 million to help get Trump elected. On June 23, Haaretz reported that David Friedman, one of Trump's two advisors on Israel, said that Trump would support Israel's annexation of part of the West Bank. This would put him to the right of Benjamin Netanyahu.