Was President Trump right about the "disgraceful deal" he referred to last summer on July 26 between President Barack Obama and his publisher? Pearson PLC-owned Random Penguin House advanced a combined $65 million to President Obama and his wife Michelle for their memoirs.

The $45 million for the former president and $20 for the former First Lady are enormous cash advancements by publishing standards. A comparison reviewed by the Guardian showed a disproportionate sum of money had been thrown to the Obamas, even when compared to established best sellers or other famed leaders like James Patterson, who averaged $7 million per book in a 17-book contract; Pope John Paul II, who received $8.5 million in 1996; Hillary Clinton, who signed a deal for $14 million in 2014; and Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling, who received $6 million in 2012.

Of course, that alone isn't a news story, as the Obamas were among the brightest of stars in 2017 when they got their multi-million dollar payday.

However, a strong whiff of Chicago-style politics filled the air when researchers discovered concerning links that, in May of 2014, Pearson PLC won a major contract from Common Core testing consortium. Pearson would conduct the testing of students in states that use Common Core testing for their public schools throughout the United States at $24 per student.

The Obama Department of Education was giving grants to pay for the testing in the states that implemented them, within their $4.35 billion "Race To The Top" grant program. It amounted to a $350 million deal for Pearson PLC.

Important timeline:

July 1, 2013: Pearson created Random Penguin House in a merger with Bertelsmann Publishers.

May 2, 2014: Pearson wins a major testing contract from the Obama administration's  Department of Education for Common Core worth $350 million.

February 28, 2017: The Obamas announce a combined $65 million cash advance from Random Penguin House – owned by Pearson PLC – for the couple to each write their own memoir.

July 11, 2017: Pearson sells 22 percent of its Random Penguin House holdings for $1 billion.

July 26, 2019: President Trump calls for a probe into the Obama-Random Penguin House book deal and its appearance of quid pro quo. 

Later that evening, after Trump's comments were made, a "whistleblower" allegedly contacts House Intelligence Committee staffers (presumed to be Sean Misko, hired that day) about a call placed to Ukraine President Zelensky from President Trump, implying concerns of a quid pro quo.

December 18, 2019: Pearson sells its remaining 25 percent of shares of Random Penguin House back to Bertelsmann Publishing for $675 million.

This certainly has all the appearances of a quid pro quo, a "pay me now and I'll pay you back later" deal to avoid the appearances of a bribe. I'm sure Congressmen Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler would agree – if this were about President Trump and not Obama.

Also, it seems fascinating that the Democrats launched a quid pro quo investigation on the very same day that President Trump pointed this possible one out on July 26, 2019 – less than one full day after he hung up the phone with Ukraine President Zelensky, and with Obama administration holdovers listening to the call with the National Security Council.

It's also the same day House Intelligence Chairman Schiff hired former NCS White House situation room agent Sean Misko to the House Intel Committee staff.

Ken Pittman is the host of The Ken Pittman Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. Contact him at ken.pittman@townsquaremedia.com. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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