Trump offered campaign cash to squash New England Patriots ‘Spygate’ scandal, senator’s son says

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<p>In 2008, Donald Trump reportedly tried to squash an investigation of the New England Patriots by offering a prominent US senator ‘a lot of money’</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

In 2008, Donald Trump reportedly tried to squash an investigation of the New England Patriots by offering a prominent US senator ‘a lot of money’

(AFP via Getty Images)

In 2008, Donald Trump allegedly offered to donate “a lot of money” to Senator Arlen Specter’s campaign if he stopped an investigation into the New England Patriots, the late senator’s son and ghostwriter have told ESPN.

At the time, Senator Specter was leading an investigation into whether the football team had secretly videotaped other teams’ coaches’ signals in a scandal known as “Spygate.” Mr Trump – who was friends with the Patriots’ quarterback, Tom Brady, and owner, Robert Kraft – reportedly wanted the probe to go away.

“If you laid off the Patriots, there’d be a lot of money in Palm Beach,” Mr Trump allegedly told Senator Specter, according to his eldest son, Shanin Specter, and his ghostwriter, Charles Robbins.

A spokesperson for Mr Trump has vehemently denied the allegations.

“This is completely false,” Trump advisor Jason Miller told ESPN. “We have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Back in 2008, the “Spygate scandal” was rocking the NFL. Senator Specter, then a Republican representing Pennsylvania, called for an independent investigator to find out how many games the Patriots had won thanks to their secret tapes, and why the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, had ordered those tapes destroyed.

Mr Specter’s words reportedly sent shockwaves through the NFL, and Mr Trump, who was already a longtime donor to the senator, stepped in to help. The celebrity businessman invited the lawmaker to dinner at his Mar-a-Lago estate, and afterwards they spoke on the phone. During that call, Mr Trump reportedly made his offer.

The senator later described this conversation in his memoir, Life Among the Cannibals – but left out the other person’s name.

“On the signal stealing, a mutual friend had told me that ‘if I laid off the Patriots, there’d be a lot of money in Palm Beach,’” Senator Specter wrote. “And I replied, ‘I couldn’t care less.’”

Both Mr Robbins and the younger Mr Specter believe this “mutual friend” was Mr Trump – and the senator’s son believes he was making the offer on behalf of Mr Kraft.

“My father told me that Trump was acting as a messenger for Kraft,” Shanin Specter told ESPN. “My father said it was Kraft’s offer, not someone else’s.”

In 2012, the same year the memoir was published, Senator Specter died. Many questions about Spygate remain.

“I’m not sure why he didn’t disclose it was Trump in the book,” the younger Mr Specter went on. “But he liked Trump. They had a warm relationship. So that may explain it. But that, of course, was a different Trump. If my father were in the Senate today, a lot of things would be different.”

The New England Patriots have not yet responded to The Independent’s request for comment.

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