Trump accuses Bloomberg of 'illegally buying' Democratic nomination

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCDC updates website to remove dosage guidance on drug touted by Trump Trump says he'd like economy to reopen 'with a big bang' but acknowledges it may be limited Graham backs Trump, vows no money for WHO in next funding bill MORE on Tuesday accused former New York City Mayor Michael BloombergMichael BloombergNew York City auctioned off extra ventilators due to cost of maintenance: report DNC books million in fall YouTube ads Former Bloomberg staffer seeks class-action lawsuit over layoffs 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 SandersDrugmaker caps insulin costs at to help diabetes patients during pandemic The Hill's Campaign Report: Wisconsin votes despite coronavirus pandemic Sen. Brown endorses Biden for president 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.