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Trump Loves Jeff Sessions, But He Once Loved His Opponent Too

Federal filings show the New York billionaire supported Sessions' opponent in 2002.
Jeff Sessions
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., pauses as he takes his seat on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015.Carolyn Kaster / AP

Donald Trump touts Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions as a possible vice presidential running mate, and Sessions was the first sitting U.S. senator to endorse Trump for the presidency.

But Trump hasn't always been such a close ally of Sessions: Federal filings show the New York billionaire supported Sessions' opponent in Sessions' 2002 reelection campaign, Alabama State Auditor Susan Parker. Parker is a Democrat and was the first woman in Alabama to be nominated for a senate seat.

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According to Federal Election Commission records, Trump donated $1,000 to Parker's campaign to unseat Sessions at a 2002 fundraiser held in Trump Tower on New York's Fifth Avenue.

Among the Democrats who were expected to attend that event? Hillary Clinton, then a New York senator.

Democratic luminaries named on the invitation to the event — a copy of which was obtained by CNBC — included Sen. Charles Schumer and current Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Also listed on the invitation were political figures who later faced ethical troubles: Sen. Jon Corzine, who led financial firm MF Global into bankruptcy and was forced to admit in a congressional hearing that he did not know where more than a billion dollars of the firm's money went; and Sen. John Edwards, who was indicted on felony campaign finance charges after his own presidential campaign.

The fundraiser to benefit "Friends of Susan Parker" was held on Friday, October 4, 2002 — and due to the contentious debate then roiling the Senate over the Iraq War resolution, many of the DC-based politicians listed on the invitation did not attend. But one person who was in the room at the time recalls that Melania Trump — who was not yet married to Donald — approached event organizers to hand over Trump's check. "No one knew who Melania was at that time," the person recalls. "She came in and she was so beautiful, everyone was in shock. You don't see many like her in Alabama."

Spokespeople for Trump and Sessions did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Trump has said he was long an avid contributor to political campaigns. Over several years, he even wrote campaign checks to Clinton, who he will likely face in November.

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