‘Emergency contributions’: Trump, Republicans in fundraising frenzy ahead of charges
Washington: Leading Republicans have joined Donald Trump in a fundraising frenzy to boost their campaign war chests ahead of his possible indictment over alleged hush money paid to a porn star.
Days after suggesting he would be arrested on Tuesday and called for supporters to protest on his behalf, Trump remained a free man as a grand jury in Manhattan prepared to vote on whether to charge him with a crime.
The grand jury does not meet on Tuesdays, so the earliest expected vote would be on Wednesday, US time. But as New York beefed up security ahead of a decision, Trump, who is reportedly in “high spirits” according to sources, continued to solicit funds to boost his coffers for next year’s presidential election.
“I’m not worried in the slightest,” was the subject heading of one email soliciting donations ranging between $US24 and $US3300 ($36 and $4900) and or more. “Please make a contribution of any amount to show that you will never surrender as the witch hunt heats up like never before.”
Senior Republicans have joined him in the money grab, using Trump’s potential indictment – which would be unprecedented for a current or former president – to call for donations to prop up their congressional campaigns.
Police officers place a barricade in front of Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday.Credit:AP
Among them was House of Representatives conference chair Elise Stefanik, a New York congresswoman who sent out an email calling for “emergency contributions” to be rushed to an “Official Trump Defence Fund as soon as possible”.
Florida congressman Matt Gaetz – one of the far-right politicians who tried to block Kevin McCarthy from being House speaker earlier this year – also sought donations to fight what he described as the “Woketopian District Attorney in New York”, a reference to Democrat Alvin Bragg, who is overseeing the investigation.
And Majority Leader Steve Scalise, the second-highest ranking House Republican after McCarthy, sent out a petition requesting donations for Trump’s “freedom from the corrupt witch hunt”.
The aggressive fundraising push is reminiscent of similar efforts Trump embarked on immediately after losing the 2020 presidential election, when people on his mailing list were spammed by dozens of daily messages urging them to donate to a so-called Election Defence Fund, to fight what he falsely claimed was a “stolen election”.
House of Representatives conference chair Elise Stefanik pictured with Speaker Kevin McCarthy.Credit:AP
The scheme turned out to be a slush fund, from which about $US250 million was raised. As the January 6 select committee outlined in one of its hearing, no such defence fund actually existed. Most of the money instead went to Trump’s own Save America political action committee (PAC), which, in turn, gave contributions to a range of pro-Trump organisations.
Trump is once again seeking the Republican nomination to run for president but has lost the backing of several mega-donors who have thrown their support behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
DeSantis is yet to formally enter the race but a Trump indictment in Manhattan could bolster his chances against the former president, who has vowed not give up the race even if he is charged.
The investigation relates to an alleged hush-money payment Trump made before the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels to prevent her from speaking publicly about her claims of a sexual encounter in 2006. Trump, who was invited to testify before the grand jury but refused, has denied the allegations.
Adult-film star Stormy Daniels in 2018. Trump’s campaign allegedly paid hush money to her in 2016.Credit:AP
As the grand jury probing the case reached its final stretch this week, New York City police officers spent the day erecting scaffolding outside Manhattan Criminal Court and Bragg’s office to mitigate the potential for violence.
In Washington, barricades and additional security were also being considered as a response to a post Trump issued on Saturday, which was reminiscent of his call for supporters to “fight like hell” on January 6, 2021 to stop Joe Biden’s election victory from being certified.
Supporters of former US president Donald Trump outside his home Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Tuesday.Credit:Bloomberg
“THE FAR & AWAY LEADING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE AND FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, WILL BE ARRESTED ON TUESDAY OF NEXT WEEK.” he wrote. “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
The Manhattan probe is one of several involving the actions of the twice-impeached president. Other investigations include a Department of Justice probe into the events of January 6 Capitol attack; a Georgia-based investigation into election interference in that state; and another Justice Department investigation into the handling of classified documents.
Meanwhile, in a court in Delaware on Tuesday, Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen also took centre stage in a $US1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News.
In a hearing to determine whether the case should go to trial, lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems asked a judge to find Fox Corporation liable for defamation for pushing Trump’s false claims that their voting machines were used to rig the outcome of the 2020 election.
Fox, however, argued its coverage of the election and Trump’s claims was newsworthy and protected by the US constitution’s first amendment, which guarantees freedom of the press.
Explosive court filings released so far have already revealed the private disdain high-profile presenters such as Tucker Carlson had for Trump and how the push for ratings shaped the network’s coverage its coverage.
Emails and texts by Carlson and other leading figures shown in court on Tuesday further reinforced the view that they did not believe the fraud allegations but sat on their hands while allies of Trump went on air to accuse Dominion of conspiring with Democrats and foreign governments to rig the vote.
Murdoch also revealed in evidence last month that several network presenters had “endorsed” Trump’s lies of a stolen election, and that company executives could have intervened to prevent those lies from being aired.
The hearing continues.
– with Bloomberg
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