President Trump is no amateur at getting strangers to hand over their money under dubious pretenses — witness Trump University, Trump Vodka, and all other manner of schemes from his checkered business career. So when he lost the presidential election a month ago, there was a natural transition to using his defeat as a get-richer-quick scheme.
The New York Times and Washington Post report that Trump has raised more than $150 million from small donors after the election — which, you may recall, he lost — in large part by hyping quixotic efforts to change or overturn the results. Much of the money came in during the days immediately following the election, when the major networks hadn’t yet called the race for Biden, and when it still may have seemed possible for Trump to mount some kind of legal-challenge-fueled comeback — though that was never a realistic possibility.
The Trump team has portrayed the money coming in as going toward an “Election Defense Fund.” But per the Times, that is more than a little misleading.
In reality, the fine print shows that the first 75 percent of every contribution currently goes to a new political action committee that Mr. Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which can be used to fund his political activities going forward, including staff and travel. The other 25 percent of each donation is directed to the Republican National Committee.
Fine print on earlier donations specified that some of the money would be used to pay off the Trump campaign’s debt.
Though his administration is finally cooperating with President-elect Biden’s transition team, Trump continues to claim that he was denied victory only because of massive fraud and a “rigged” election. With various swing states certifying their election results, his legal team’s increasingly baroque efforts look far more desperate than they did three weeks ago. Yet the solicitations keep coming:
Judging by the results so far, there’s no compelling reason to let up.