Can Rosie O'Donnell Be Charged? She Offered Republicans $2 Million To Oppose The Tax Bill
As the Senate geared up to vote on the GOP tax bill Tuesday night, those opposed to the plan turned their focus to urging moderate Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to vote against it. After she offered to give each Republican $2 million to fight the proposed tax system overhaul, Trump supporters called for Rosie O'Donnell to be charged with bribery. While it's illegal to offer public officials anything of value with the goal of influencing that official's actions, the comedian's tweets very well could have been satire — she makes a living off of her jokes, after all.
O'Donnell promised in a tweet Tuesday night that she would give Collins and Flake each $2 million if they voted "no" on the tax bill. "No shit," she wrote, "2 million cash each." She urged them to DM her to finalize the deal. When people replied questioning how serious she was, O'Donnell responded, "i swear i will write them a check." She made it clear she opposes the bill because it could result in millions of people losing health insurance, and in a third tweet on the issue, she reiterated her offer: "2 million to any GOP senator who votes no on KILLING AMERICANS."
The comedian has long feuded with President Trump, and her tweets opposing the GOP tax plan didn't sit well with his supporters. Calls to "lock her up" flew around Twitter at lightning speed as Trump supporters called for O'Donnell to be charged for attempting to bribe U.S. senators. "Attorney General Sessions, get cracking!" a Daily Wire article urged.
Those pointing out that bribery is against the law aren't wrong. Federal law states that anyone who "directly or indirectly, corruptly gives, offers or promises anything of value to any public official" with the intent to "influence any official act" is breaking the law. The punishment for such a crime would be a fine of up to three times the amount of the bribe and/or a prison sentence of up to 15 years. A person found guilty of bribery could also be barred from holding public office.
While O'Donnell repeated her offer multiple times via Twitter, anything a comedian says on social media should be taken with a grain of salt. It's impossible to know for sure if O'Donnell was serious about forking over $2 million to Republicans who opposed the tax plan, or if it was all a drawn-out joke meant to highlight the absurdity of American politics in 2017.
People also criticized O'Donnell for the way she called out Collins, specifically. She asked the senator in one tweet, "do u think your family is proud of u," and included a photo of Collins' family. She proceeded to write that the senator "betrayed us all," urging her to ask for forgiveness and "redeem" her soul by voting against the bill.
In the end, both Collins and Flake voted for the GOP tax bill. So did every other Republican, with the exception of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was not present for the vote. The proposed tax plan now goes back to the House, where lawmakers need to finalize small changes that the Senate made to the bill. House Republicans overwhelmingly approved the previous iteration on Tuesday, so the bill's expected to pass again without a fuss. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Trump plans to celebrate the legislative victory with GOP members of Congress on Wednesday afternoon at the White House.
Although O'Donnell's tweetstorm didn't sway either Collins or Flake to oppose the tax plan, she continued to post about her offer. She retweeted a post Wednesday morning saying that, after her public bribery attempt, "she should probably expect calls from other politicians telling her the proper and usual way to offer bribes quietly and secretly." So the comedian herself doesn't appear too worried about the possibility of any charges, for what it's worth.