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Trump accuses Bloomberg of 'illegally buying' Democratic nomination

President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE on Tuesday accused former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergBiden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security The secret weapon in Biden's fight against climate change Sanders celebrates Biden-Harris victory: 'Thank God democracy won out' MORE of trying to “illegally” buy the Democratic nomination for president, taking aim at the billionaire businessman’s massive self-funding operation. 

“What Mini Mike is doing is nothing less than a large scale illegal campaign contribution. He is ‘spreading’ money all over the place, only to have recipients of his cash payments, many former opponents, happily joining or supporting his campaign. Isn’t that called a payoff?” Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon.

“Mini is illegally buying the Democrat Nomination,” Trump tweeted, repeating his claim that the Democratic Party is trying “again” to take the election away from Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClub for Growth to launch ad blitz in Georgia to juice GOP turnout Inequality of student loan debt underscores possible Biden policy shift In defense of incrementalism: A call for radical realism MORE (I-Vt.) and mocking Bloomberg for his height.  

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Trump’s remarks come as Bloomberg, who has been funding his campaign with hundreds of millions of his own money, is rising in the polls. Federal candidates who fund their own campaigns do not face restrictions on how much they can spend of their own money in order to win an election. 

Bloomberg replied shortly thereafter on Twitter, asking Trump: "Why do you want to run against Bernie so badly?" Trump responded that he'd prefer Bloomberg as his general election opponent:

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Sanders won the New Hampshire primary and came in a close second in Iowa, while Bloomberg, who entered the race late, has declined to participate in the early state while spending heavily in those voting on Super Tuesday and after.

Meanwhile, Trump has frequently taken aim at Bloomberg, with whom he previously had a friendly relationship before winning the White House in 2016. The two traded insults on Twitter last week, with Trump calling Bloomberg a “mass of dead energy” and the former mayor returning fire by labeling the president a “carnival barking clown.” 

Bloomberg on Tuesday qualified for Wednesday’s Democratic debate in Nevada, which would mark his first appearance on the debate stage.

—Updated at 5:05 p.m.