Next month, Donald J. Trump will leave the White House as a private individual towering over a slew of campaign cash, a situation that has never happened with an outgoing president and with few legal limits to spending it.
President Trump has mitigated a defeat he has yet to admit by convincing his staunch supporters – often under dubious simulations – to hand him massive sums of money: He has raised about $ 250 million since election day. dollars along with the national party.
More than $ 60 million of that amount has ended up in a new political action committee (PAC), according to people familiar with the matter, which Trump will monitor after leaving the presidency. Those funds, far in excess of the amounts previously available to outgoing leaders, give him tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions: he could use the money to appease rogue factions within the party, reward loyalists, and be to finance travel. and meetings, hiring staff, paying your legal fees and even laying the groundwork for a 2024 bid that is far from certain.
The post-election storm of fundraising has bolstered Trump’s position as an unparalleled force and the premier fundraiser for the Republican Party, even in defeat. The day he collected the most donations online was after the election: November 6, nearly 750,000 per hour. Like your next best day. And his third.
“Right now, he’s the Republican Party,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who worked on Trump’s reelection campaign. “The party knows that almost all of the dollars they have raised over the past four years are due to Donald Trump.”
During the campaign, many of his major expenses, such as the purchase of television and digital advertising, were channeled through an airtight limited liability company (LLC) called American Made Media Consultants. This allowed the Trump campaign and her joint committee with the national party to effectively protect many details of her spending, including the people who received wages and their salaries. More than $ 700 million has passed through the LLC as of early 2019.
What no one knew was that the LLC represented another tangle of Trump’s family, financial and political interests. New documents reviewed by The New York Times reveal that Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior campaign advisor, was a member of the board of directors and named in draft statutes. The same was true of John Pence, Vice President Mike Pence’s cousin and a senior Trump adviser.
Tim Murtaugh, a Trump spokesman, noted that both Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the board in October 2019. “There was never an ethical or legal reason why they couldn’t serve on the council to begin with,” said Murtaugh. that neither of them received payment to be on the council.
This year, American Made Media Consultants was the target of a lawsuit before the Federal Elections Commission accusing it of “laundering” funds to hide the ultimate beneficiary of Trump campaign spending. The documents presented show that the vast majority of the money was spent after Lara Trump resigned from the board. The complaint is being processed.
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For Trump, the $ 250 million he and his party raised in six weeks is enough to pay off all of his outstanding campaign bills, fund his failed legal challenges, and he would still have tens of millions of dollars to spare.
Still, Trump’s plans remain extraordinarily fluid. According to aides, Joe Biden’s refusal to accept victory has hampered domestic political planning, and some advisers in his dwindling circle of confidants are reluctant to even approach him with a proposal for action for 2021 and beyond.
People who have spoken to Trump say he appears withered and fed up with his job; This indifference is reflected in a stubborn Twitter account that continues to focus more on the baseless allegations of fraud than the death toll from the raging pandemic.
Trump has said he will run again in 2024 … but then again, he may not. Trump created this new PAC, but there may still be another political entity cooking up, people involved in the said conversations. Mentions of producing a flashy event or announcement made by him to overshadow Biden’s inauguration are currently on hiatus.
For now, Trump planned to go to Georgia on Saturday, according to a senior Republican official, to support two Republicans in Senate races for that state. Nonetheless, he remains angry with the Governor and Secretary of State of Georgia, both Republicans, for accepting the election results and just doesn’t want to make the trip. There has been talk of the possibility of her coming after the Christmas holidays.
Still, Trump’s political apparatus has used the energy and turmoil of his base during both elections to squeeze its own fundraising. Petitions have been sent via email and text messages calling on Trump supporters to contribute to the Georgia Election Fund, although no money goes directly to any of the Republican senators during the vote, leading to to the wrath of Republican Senate strategists.
Instead, the fine print shows that 75 percent of donations to the Georgia fund go to Trump’s new PAC, called Save America, and 25 percent to the Republican National Committee (RNC).
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After weeks of ‘FRAUD’ yelling at his supporters in emails and asking them to support an ‘election defense fund’ (which also sends 75 percent of donations to his new PAC), Trump’s operation has shifted subtly from tone and focus, returning to more sustainable pre-election issues such as the sale of autographed caps and opposition to socialism.
According to federal documents, Trump and the RNC spent about $ 15 million between the two between October 15 and November 23 to pay for legal and other costs associated with contesting the election.
Even some of the heaviest post-election expenses – which his campaign said was reserved for vote counting – was funneled through the LLC in which Lara Trump was a board member, including $ 2.2 million for “advertising by SMS,” known as text messages. .
To get a sense of the magnitude of the amount of money Donald Trump will have at his disposal, the loot of just over $ 60 million – and more – from Trump’s new PAC has about the same money he spent on to win the nomination. presidential party in 2016.
Some campaign finance experts have speculated that Trump could use the excess money in his new PAC, formally labeled as Leadership PAC, to pay for the legal obligation he will face on a personal level in the future when under investigation as soon as he leaves office. position (a senior Trump adviser noted that they don’t expect the money to be used for personal legal needs).
“A PAC executive are funds used for illegal purposes,” said Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, a group that supports greater political transparency. “There are very, very few limits to what they can spend money on.”
While Trump’s post-presidency is almost in no shape, he has expressed his desire to exercise his control over national politics, especially among Republicans.
She has already supported Ronna McDaniel, a close ally, for another term as RNC president. He’s faced major challenges for Republicans, such as Georgian Governor Brian Kemp, who angered him by rejecting his baseless theories of voter fraud. He even asked his advisers how he could maintain control of the party without running for office.
“There is no greater pulpit to intimidate than the presidency, but despite everything, President Trump is likely to play an important role in the future of the Republican Party,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster. “It is very difficult to imagine that he would follow the same path as George W. Bush, Barack Obama and other presidents by keeping his mouth shut and letting the new president try to rule.”
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