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Donald Trump Jr.'s $50K visit sparks call to impeach Florida student president

The University of Florida student body president is accused by some student senate members of spending $50,000 of student fees "to further enrich Donald Trump Jr., and Kimberly Guilfoyle."
Image: Donald Trump Jr.
Donald Trump Jr. speaks to the students at the University of Florida on Oct. 10, 2019.Paul Hennessy / SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty images file

As the American public watched one impeachment hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, a call for the impeachment of another sitting president was ramping up at the University of Florida.

And the impeachment resolution brought by members of the university's student senate Tuesday against the student body president, Michael Murphy, isn't completely unrelated to the president of the United States.

The resolution accuses Murphy of malfeasance and abuse of power for using mandatory student fees to pay $50,000 to bring the president's son Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, to speak at the university in October.

The resolution, obtained and made public by the Tampa Bay Times, alleges that Murphy violated a student body statute against the use of any activity or service fees in support of or against a political party.

It claims that emails published by a student newspaper showed that Murphy colluded with a Trump campaign representative "to expend $50,000 of mandatory student fees to further enrich Donald Trump Jr., and Kimberly Guilfoyle."

"Mr. Murphy not only endangered students marginalized by the speakers’ white nationalist supporters, but also abused his power to advance a particular political party at the expense of the students he should represent," the resolution says.

The October talk drew protests by students who argued that it was a partisan event and that student fees should not have been used to pay for it. Still, some conservative students contended that differing viewpoints needed to be heard on campus.

University of Florida students each pay about $500 a year in activity fees, which are sometimes covered by a scholarship funded by public tax dollars.

Organizers of the event said the talk was not about politics even though Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle spent portions of their nearly hourlong appearance lauding President Donald Trump and his administration.

It was set up by Caroline Wren, the national financial consultant for Trump Victory, the president’s 2020 re-election committee.

Murphy told the university's student paper, The Independent Florida Alligator, before the event that the student government had taken the initiative in reaching out to Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle to set up the event.

But emails obtained by The Alligator show that Wren first reached out to Murphy to coordinate the engagement after the two met at a July 4 party.

Wren did not respond to NBC News' requests for comment. She told The Alligator that after meeting Murphy, she had followed up with him “via my private email in my personal capacity and mistakenly forgot to remove my Trump Victory signature.”

Murphy contended that he had also tried to bring 2020 presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to campus, but that the candidate's staff said he was too busy, The Alligator reported. Public records confirm the exchange with the campaign, and show a member of Sanders' staff told Murphy that the presidential candidate's “schedule was very full and he is traveling extensively,” the student paper said.

Critics of Murphy note that he has attended Trump events, including the president's inauguration in Washington, D.C., according to photos on social media, and that his father has donated more than $5,000 to Trump's campaign this year, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Meanwhile, his supporters say calls for impeachment are inappropriate.

“No one disputes the fact that Michael Murphy is very well-connected,” Jarrod Rodriguez, treasurer of the university's College Republicans group, told the Tampa Bay Times. “I can’t fault him for using those connections to bring a speaker of that caliber to campus.”

Murphy will have the opportunity to present counterevidence in front of half of the student senate. If two-thirds of that group votes for his impeachment, he will be suspended. If three-fourths of the other half of the senate agrees, he will be removed from office permanently.