How Trump’s blizzard of misleading fundraising emails explains his refusal to concede

President Donald Trump’s continued effort to overturn the election results is almost certain to fail, as Joe Biden clearly and resolutely won the election. But the president has compelling reasons for prolonging the fight as long as he can.

The nearly 500 emails the Trump campaign ran in November raised at least $ 170 million after polling day, like Will Steakin and Soo Rin Kim reported for ABC Tuesday. (For context, the Trump campaign account’s best monthly fundraiser before the election was in September, when they raised a simple $ 81 millionThey did so with very deceptive innuendos that the money is funding Trump’s wacky legal challenges to the election results, when a close reading of the fine print of the emails shows that the money is being largely raised. for things like paying down the election debt and funding Trump’s post-presidential operation.

And it won’t be particularly difficult for Trump to finally channel some of the manna from his new PAC leadership into his own pockets. (A “leadership PAC” is a type of political committee formed by current or former elected officials.)

“While he couldn’t just cut himself a massive check, he could hire Mar-a-Lago for an obscene sum of money – PAC leadership money – to make a speech himself, and that would be it.” absolutely legal, ”Jordan Libowitz, director of citizen communications for ethics and accountability in Washington (CREW), told Vox in an interview. “So if you see the Trump administration as a long flu to redirect taxpayer and political fan money to Trump properties, it would be a good move to do so.”

But the fact that Trump could redirect his campaign’s solicited contributions to his own pockets would likely be news to some of Trump’s supporters who have rallied at a time when losing campaigns typically shut down operations. It is because the emails that the campaign continues to bombard almost a month after Trump’s loss to Biden, they’re misleading at best.

Trump urged supporters to donate to nonexistent ‘Election Defense Fund’

On November 15, for example, the Trump campaign sent an email that framed its post-election fundraising pitch around the president’s failed legal fight to overturn the results.

“President Trump is fighting to defend the integrity of this election, but he cannot do it alone,” the email said. “He needs YOU to join him and join him in contributing to our vital Election Defense Fund. This is so important that it gives YOU the opportunity to increase your impact by 1000%. “

There is only one problem: Trump’s “Election Defense Fund” does not exist. Instead, like Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee detailed for the Washington Post, the majority of the money collected by emails of this type goes to the direction mentioned by PAC Libowitz:

According to the fine print of recent fundraising calls, 75% of each contribution to the joint fundraising committee would go first to the Save America executive PAC and the rest would be shared with the party committee, to help out. party operating expenses. What this actually means is that the vast majority of low-value donations under the current deal would go to fund the new PAC in the president’s leadership, instead of efforts to support the party or fund election prosecutions.

According to @TrumpEmail, a Twitter account that has closely monitored Trump’s fundraising emails for three years, the tone of the missives has subtly shifted in recent days, from bogus ‘Election Defense Fund’ to saying things like, ” One thing has become clear in recent days, I am the all-time favorite president of the American people. The e-mail containing this complaint also cited assertions already debunked disreputable media like The Epoch Times to insinuate that the 2020 election is still up for grabs.

But the only constant is that the emails are aimed at getting supporters to open their wallets – which they have. Campaign officials told the Post that most of the fundraising came from small donors; the emails have activated “the president’s staunch and staunch financial backer base, who tend to contribute the most when they feel the president is under siege or facing unfair political attacks.”

Unlike PACs which are tied to Houses of Congress, there are very few restrictions on what Trump can do with leadership PAC money. In addition to the possibility that Trump would use the funds to organize events at his properties (and thereby redirect them to his own pockets), Libowitz explained that he could use them to continue to organize political rallies across the country.

“Renting a basketball arena doesn’t come cheap, and given his history of not paying for seats and the fact that he’s not a candidate, or at least not a current candidate, he’s much more likely that people will need the money up front “after he leaves office, Libowitz said. “So he could hire Trump Force One to the PAC leadership and charge his PAC leadership for his own use or his own plane to go to a rally. It just opens up a bunch of new ways he can continue to attract money from his followers that he can then redirect to his businesses and, of course, to himself and his family.

So while it would be in the country’s interest for Trump to admit he lost and psychologically prepare his supporters for the reality that Biden will be inaugurated as president next month, dragging him out for as long as possible allows him to continue. to cry.

“I think there’s a question of whether it’s just a last breath trying to milk every dollar he can from his followers, or whether people have gotten so convinced he’s going to find a way secret to becoming president that they will. keep giving him money, ”Libowitz said.