President Donald J Trump attempted to intervene in an investigation into whether the New England Patriots had spied on an opposition team back in 2008, reports suggest.
Trump, who is close friends with team owner Robert Kraft and has earned support from Tom Brady in the past, is said to have claimed to be acting on behalf of Kraft.
Back in 2008, Pennsylvania senator Arlen Spector launched an investigation into the 'Spygate' scandal that had gripped the league the year prior.
The Patriots had been accused of illegally videotaping opposition team sidelines, with claims they were doing so in order to learn and decipher signals from coaches.
However, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly allowed the league to destroy all evidence used in the original investigation done by the league.
The NFL fined team head coach Bill Belichick $500,000, as well as an additional fine of $250,000.
The Patriots were also stripped of their 2008 NFL Draft first-round pick.
But after the investigation was concluded, Goodell reportedly chose to destroy all notes, tapes and other materials related to the incident, which were six tapes from late in the 2006 season to the 2007 pre-season.
That decision was viewed as a bizarre one by then-Congressman Arlen Specter, who decided to launch an investigation into the matter.
And according to ESPN, Trump – who was then still seven years away from launching his presidential campaign – attempted to derail the campaign.
A report published on Wednesday claims Trump offered cash to Specter if he were to drop the investigation into the Patriots.
However, that claim has been denied by Trump, Kraft and the Patriots organisation.
"This is completely false," said Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump. "We have no idea what you're talking about." A Patriots spokesman said Kraft" "never asked Donald Trump to talk to Arlen Specter on his behalf."
"Mr. Kraft is not aware of any involvement of Trump on this topic and he did not have any other engagement with Specter or his staff," A spokesman for Kraft said.
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