After spending months on the campaign trail criticizing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton for her alleged "pay-to-play" politics, a new report reveals that one of the most generous Clinton Foundation donors at the center of the shady blend of business and politics has also contributed to President-elect Donald Trump's eponymous nonprofit organization, the Trump Foundation.
"I think it's troubling," Peter Schweizer, author of the book "Clinton Cash," told ABC News. "He's somebody that donated to the Clinton Foundation, and this is a problem. … I think there's no other way to read it other than they are hoping to get some favor in return."
According to the Trump Foundation's 2015 tax filings, which became public Tuesday, the Victor Pinchuk Foundation donated $150,000 to the Trump Foundation in the fall of 2015 — the only donation Ukrainian businessman Victor Pinchuk's organization ever made to Trump, Thomas Weihe, head of the foundation's board, said.
A spokesman for Pinchuk told the Washington Post that the donation to the Trump Foundation was payment for a 2015 speech Trump gave via video link at a conference in Kiev.
But Pinchuk, who is reportedly worth more than $1 billion, gave much larger sums to the Clinton Foundation. Over the years, the billionaire has donated between $10 million and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation and has lent his private plane to the Clinton family, according to the New York Times.
Pinchuk's name arose during the campaign alongside accusations of "pay-to-play" politicking by Clinton when she served as secretary of state. His name is seen in State Department emails revealed by Citizens United as being invited to a small dinner party hosted by then-Secretary Clinton.
Trump used those instances — and many others — to fuel his attacks against Clinton while he was on the campaign trail.
"They should give the money back," the New York developer said of the Clintons. "Countries that influenced her totally and also countries that discriminated against women and gays and everybody else. I mean, that money should be given back. They should not take that money."
Now Schweizer, who is an informal adviser to Trump, is calling on the president-elect to take a taste of his own medicine, telling ABC he needs to return Pinchuk's donation.
"I think one of the reforms that needs to take place is that the Trump Foundation should not take any donations from businessmen from the United States or internationally," he said. "It's just simply a gateway to trying to curry favor with the president-elect."
The problem with the revelation is it severely weakens Trump's argument that it was Clinton — not he — who was the morally unacceptable and corrupted candidate. In addition, Pinchuk's donation stirs up even more debate centered around concerns about the incoming president's ability to separate his business dealings from his White House interactions.
"The implication is that Trump, like Clinton, has close ties with international figures ― and unlike Clinton, corporate investments all over the world," Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Huffington Post. "These kinds of cases raise questions about whether, while acting as public officials, people like Trump would be able to discharge their duties without bias in favor of their international ties."