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'Fox & Friends' co-host Kilmeade says he mistakenly made contribution to Trump campaign
"Fox & Friends" co-host Brian Kilmeade donated roughly $600 to President Trump's campaign in what he says was an unwitting mistake made while Christmas shopping after the 2016 presidential election.
Kilmeade told The Hill in an interview on Tuesday that he purchased several Christmas ornaments modeled after Trump's "Make America Great Again" hat for friends and family members in November 2016, a couple weeks after Trump won the presidency.
"I had no idea that this would be considered a donation," Kilmeade said. "I'm looking for something cool and unique for Christmas for adults after this historic election."
"[The ornaments were] a little expensive in retrospect, but that was it," he added. "I had no idea that would go to a campaign contribution."
Kilmeade said he purchased the items through the Trump campaign website. When buying souvenirs on the site, users are given the option to make an additional donation and are notified upon checkout they must enter their occupation as required by federal law for political contributions.
Still, the "Fox & Friends" host claimed he was merely searching for Trump campaign gifts and was unaware he landed on the official campaign site or that his purchase would go toward the president's political coffers.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show that Kilmeade gave $601.71 to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. in a contribution that was processed on Jan. 20, 2017, the day Trump was inaugurated.
While Kilmeade's initial payment went toward the general election cycle, it was redistributed toward the primary election cycle as it was processed well after Election Day.
The FEC does not list any other donations made by Kilmeade in the current election cycle.
When contacted, Fox News said in a statement to The Hill it does not prohibit talent from buying holiday ornaments.
Kilmeade said he thought nothing of the purchase until Fox made him aware of the donation over the weekend. He searched his records and determined it must have referred to the November 2016 purchase, he said.
"Even if I wasn't in this business, I would never be giving contributions out to people. Especially after an election," Kilmeade said.
"There's no secret, there's no 'ah ha' moment," he continued. "There's, 'I bought ornaments two years ago before Christmas for people that like Donald Trump.'"
Kilmeade asserted that a meaningful contribution would have been made prior to the election.
"I have no interest in giving to any campaign about anything," Kilmeade said.
Kilmeade, however, indicated he does not plan to seek a refund for his contribution. When pressed on the reason, he noted that his friends and family received their gifts two years ago, and he does not intend on asking them to return the items so he can get back his contribution.
Under its "Shipping & Returns" section, the Trump campaign website makes clear that transactions on the page "are contributions to Trump Make America Great Again Committee" and therefore cannot be refunded.
Kilmeade, 54, is one of three hosts of "Fox & Friends," the flagship morning program on "Fox News." The program is hugely influential with the president, who periodically phones in to the show and will regularly cite its content in his tweets.
Just this week, the president's claim that "unknown Middle Easterners" were traveling with a group of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. appeared to originate with a guest on the show who raised the possibility and attributed it to unverified reports in Guatemala.
Kilmeade, like his fellow co-hosts, is an enthusiastic supporter of the president. He has defended many of Trump's controversial comments and policies, including earlier this year when the administration separated families who illegally crossed the border as part of its "zero tolerance" policy.
He has also at times chided the president. He was critical of Trump when the president mocked Christine Blasey Ford's testimony that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school, and Kilmeade pushed back when Trump cast doubt on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election during a joint press conference with the country's president, Vladimir Putin.