Donald Trump offered to sit out presidential election for $5bn, book claims

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Donald Trump was prepared to quit the US presidential election race for $5bn, it has been claimed. Representatives of the former president are said to have floated the figure when they were approached by accused cryptocurrency fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried. Mr Bankman-Fried was “exploring the legality” of buying off Mr Trump to ensure he didn’t stand in the 2020 election, according to a new book. The claim was made in an extract from Going Infinite by the author Michael Lewis, which chronicles the rise and fall Mr Bankman-Fried. Mr Lewis, who also wrote The Big Short and Moneyball, spent over two years speaking to 31-year-old Mr Bankman-Fried, who became a billionaire after founding trading platform FTX but now faces the prospect of life in jail. “He explained to me, as the plane descended into Washington, he was exploring the legality of paying Donald Trump himself not to run for president,” the author wrote in an excerpt published by the Washington Post. “His team had somehow created a back channel into the Trump operation and returned with the not terribly earth-shattering news that Donald Trump might indeed have his price: $5bn. Or so Sam was told by his team.” Mr Trump’s representatives could not immediately be contacted for comment. The excerpt was published ahead of the start of Mr Bankman-Fried’s trial in New York where he is accused of fraud and conspiracy linked to the collapse of FTX. He stands accused of stealing billions of dollars in customer deposits and funnelling the money into risky bets at his personal crypto hedge fund – Alameda – and to spend on property and political donations. Mr Bankman-Fried, known as SBF, was accused by US federal prosecutors of channelling millions to Democratic Party candidates and causes. Donations totalling more than $39m made him the party’s second biggest individual donor in 2021-2022. Mr Bankman-Fried is accused of creating an $8bn black hole at FTX that triggered the company’s bankruptcy. Its November 2022 collapse left hundreds of thousands out of pocket, including around 80,000 Britons. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts. If convicted on all charges, the cryptocurrency founder faces a potential maximum sentence of 110 years in prison. Mr Lewis also claimed Mr Bankman-Fried was planning to give between $15m and $30m to Republican Mitch McConnell, in the hope he would defeat the “Trumpier” candidates in the US Senate elections. Mr Bankman-Fried could not be contacted for comment. FTX was one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges at the time of its implosion. The business converted real-world currencies into digital tokens, enabling consumers to speculate on cryptocurrencies’ rapidly fluctuating values. Like Mr Bankman-Fried, Mr Trump is also facing a New York court case that begins on Monday, albeit a civil one brought by the state’s attorney general. The former US president is accused of fraudulently exaggerating the value of his commercial property portfolio, including Trump Tower and his Mar-a-Lago estate. The case beginning this week will determine how much Mr Trump must pay the state of New York in damages. Mr Trump has rejected the fraud ruling, calling it a “fake case”. Mr Trump is appealing the ruling.

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