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Mar 21, 2023
Trump’s Friends and Rivals Milk His Legal Jeopardy to Raise Money
(Bloomberg) -- Friends and foes of Donald Trump have joined him in an unprecedented money grab to boost their own campaign coffers ahead of the former president’s possible indictment in connection with hush payments to an adult film star.
Legal jeopardy is a proven fundraising tonic for Trump, who in the week before FBI agents searched his Florida home for classified documents last August, raised an average of $190,000 a day. That haul increased to more than $1 million in subsequent days as he sent fundraising appeals via text and email to his supporters.
But no current or former president has ever been indicted, making this political push all the more unusual.
Trump, who denies having an affair with the film star, is using the possibility of his indictment to raise money for his “Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee,” the proceeds for which can be used to pay legal expenses.
“Barricades are being set up around Manhattan Criminal Court – as our nation awaits an announcement on whether President Donald J. Trump will be INDICTED despite having committed NO CRIME,” alerts one such email appeal. “Please make a contribution to stand with President Trump at this critical moment – for 1,500% impact.”
The House’s top four Republicans sent similar missives this week attacking any criminal action taken against Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as prosecutorial abuse. But the money they’re requesting is mostly for their own campaigns.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy cited a need to help Trump defend himself in a McCarthy for Congress email, calling it “an UNPRECEDENTED abuse of power and House Republicans need your support as we begin investigations and stand with Trump.”
“Help Republicans stop this witch hunt,” McCarthy added, offering a list of potential dollar level contributions to his campaign committee.
How much money has been raised in recent days won’t be known until disclosures for online fundraising platforms WinRed, for Republicans, and ActBlue, for Democrats are filed at the end of July.
But congressional Republicans saw increases in their fundraising after the Mar-a-Lago raid, and they stand to profit again. McCarthy’s daily average take through WinRed increased from $17,300 the week before the raid to $46,000 after.
Not all of the fundraising this week is sympathetic to the former president.
American Bridge PAC, a Democratic super-political action committee, sent out a donor appeal with a questionnaire asking whether Trump should be prosecuted. “Help us continue holding Republicans accountable and defeat them,” it says.
Another appeal paid for by the Democratic Governor’s Association asks whether recipients believe Trump should be indicted. It includes a request for a $3 or $30.17 donation, or “whatever you can, right now,” to help elect Democrats.
California Democrat Josh Harder’s campaign sent out an donor appeal stating “it feels all but inevitable that Trump is going to be indicted soon” and reminding supporters that he’s been outspoken that if Trump committed a crime he needs to be held accountable.
But because of that, he says, McCarthy and others have targeted his congressional seat. “I’m literally #2 on Kevin McCarthy’s target list,” the message said, adding, “So will you please rush in a donation to keep this seat out of Trump’s hands?”
House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York alerts in one appeal that, “Emergency contributions must be rushed to “the Official Trump Defense Fund as soon as possible.”
For a $50 donation, the site defaults to splitting it up as $49.50 for Stefanik and a mere $0.50 for Trump, although donors can adjust allocations.
“The media is reporting that President Trump is about to be arrested by a corrupt left-wing prosecutor,” her message reads. “Your contribution will benefit Team Elise and Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee.”
The No. 2 House Republican, Majority Leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana, approaches his email outreach by asking, “Patriot – what can you do about Trump’s IMMINENT arrest?” It self-answers, “Step one: Sign the nationwide petition demanding his freedom from the corrupt Witch Hunt!”
Another appeal labeled as paid for by TEAM SCALISE, says it is “authorized by and to benefit Scalise for Congress and Eye of the Tiger PAC.”
“We now know this entire investigation is about one thing and one thing only: It’s an attempt to intimidate Conservatives who stand up to the Radical Left,” his appeal reads. “They want to SCARE you into silence.”
Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, warns, “A Soros-funded, Woketopian District Attorney in New York is using an untested legal theory to try and IMPRISON Donald Trump and DESTROY the entire America First Movement.”
“Act now and help me defend Donald J. Trump,” the email states, suggesting that donors also check a box to ensure that their donation covers a processing fee to “100% of my donation goes to Gaetz For Congress.”
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