On November 4, 2021 at 8:38 p.m., the day after America went to the polls to elect its next president, Donald Trump sent a message to hundreds of thousands of his supporters from the email address [email protected] victory.donaldtrump.com.
By then it was already clear that not only was victory eluding Trump, but he was headed for defeat. Hours earlier, the Associated Press had called Michigan and Wisconsin for Joe Biden, putting the Democratic nominee just six Electoral College votes away from the White House.
Not that you would have known that from Trump’s email.
Friend, it has started. The Democrats are trying to STEAL the election. I have activated the Official Election Defense Fund and I need ALL PATRIOTS, including YOU, to step up and ensure we have enough resources to PROTECT THE INTEGRITY OF OUR ELECTION.
Over the next nine weeks, Trump bombarded his loyal supporters with a blitzkrieg of emails, sometimes 25 in a single day. Some of the emails were specific, like the one sent Nov. 8 calling for help in Michigan where Trump said we had filed a lawsuit to stop the count (the email didn’t say a judge had already dismissed the complaint as unfounded).
Some of the emails were general, pleading with Trump supporters to defend our democracy and stop the radical left from DESTROYING America. They were sent under several different names by Trump himself, his sons Don Jr and Eric, former Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, current Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, and then Vice President Mike Penny.
Despite the nuances, all of the millions of emails sent from @victory.donaldtrump.com basically said the same thing. They urged Trump supporters to support the Official Election Defense Fund with their hard-earned dollars.
If EVERY patriot puts in $5, President Trump will have what it takes to DEFEND the election and WIN! said the email that was sent Nov. 10 three days after Bidens’ victory was sealed.
There was only one problem with this epic flurry of emails: the Official Election Defense Fund did not exist. As the House committee investigating the January 6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol revealed in a public hearing this week, Trump and his allies raised $250 million through emails by persuading of the faithful to donate to a chimera.
There was no fund dedicated to fighting election battles under Trump’s big, lying and ultimately empty lie that the presidency had been stolen from him. Instead, the money went to Trump’s new fundraising entity, Save America Pac, from which millions of dollars were distributed to pro-Trump organizations, including his own hotel properties. and the company that produced the Ellipse rally in Washington on Jan. 6 just hours before the Capitol was stormed.
As Zoe Lofgren, Democratic member of the January 6 committee, said: The big lie was also a big scam.
David Becker, executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Election Research and Innovation, said the nonexistent election defense fund added a new layer to the Jan. 6 investigation. Along with insurrection, sedition, and an attempted coup, the American people were now learning what swindling was.
We now know that Donald Trump was repeatedly told by his own family, cabinet and staff that his claims about a stolen election had no basis, and yet he continued to use those claims to raise funds. , Becker said.
He was selling false claims to his followers. The money they gave was not even used for what he said it would be used for: fighting the election in court.
Lofgrens’ unveiling of the big scam isn’t the first time Trump has been accused of playing tough and loose when it comes to money. In his book Uncovering Trump, former Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold lays bare the real estate developer’s sleight of hand in his charitable dealings dating back to the 1980s.
During his first presidential run in 2016, Trump said he had given tens of millions in charitable donations over his lifetime. Yet when Fahrenthold went looking for evidence of such benevolence, all he could find were records of $6 million that had been transferred to Trump’s charitable arm, the Trump Foundation, since 1987.
It was also unclear where most of that $6 million went. The only tangible evidence of philanthropic donations amounted to a few thousand dollars.
One of those gifts, worth $20,000, turned out to have been used by Trump to buy a portrait of himself to give to his wife Melania.
Fahrentholds reporting to the Post discovered other irregularities. Trump has used more than a quarter million dollars from his charitable foundation to cover legal costs incurred in lawsuits related to his profitable businesses.
The foundation’s largest donation, $264,631, was used to repair a fountain on the grounds of the New York Plaza Hotel, which Trump owned at the time.
If Trump’s claims about his philanthropic largesse have raised questions, so has his use of taxpayers’ money during his time in the White House. While in the presidency, he billed government departments millions of dollars for the use of his Florida Mar-a-Lago club and other hotel properties.
Trump has also come to the rescue of those accused of defrauding unsuspecting conservative Americans by making false promises. Steve Bannon, the former chief White House strategist, was pardoned by Trump on the last day of his presidency.
Bannon had been indicted by federal prosecutors for allegedly defrauding donors after he and his co-conspirators raised more than $25 million ostensibly to build a stretch of wall along the Mexican border. All of the money raised by We Build the Wall was supposed to go towards construction, but prosecutors alleged $1 million was spent on personal travel and luxury items, including a Range Rover for Bannon.
Now Trump faces his own accusations of defrauding his people. The allegation that he cheated his supporters out of millions of dollars by dangling a fictitious election defense fund in front of them could put the former president in legal peril.
It remains unclear what impact, if any, the revelations will have on Trump’s loyal army. The Jan. 6 committee is doing what it can to bring these people back to reality, showing them that Trump’s claims were completely false, Becker said.
But he added: If you’ve been living in a fog of lies for a long time, I imagine it’s really hard to be told the sky isn’t dotted, it’s blue. And that’s what we’re dealing with.
The last begging email from [email protected] was sent at 1:23 p.m. on January 6. That was 20 minutes after Pence gave the Senate a hammer blow early in the process to certify Biden as president, and 26 minutes before a riot was officially declared on Capitol Hill.
After that, the Official Election Defense Fund disappeared from Trump’s begging demands. But the email blitzkrieg continued unabated.
This week alone, Trump supporters have been beset by a slew of fundraising appeals, each more exotic than the next. There was the invitation to sign Trump’s 76th birthday card, but only if you donated first.
Then there was the email that offered those in My LOYAL, AMERICA FIRST Patriots who donated at least $75 a signed photo with their own personalized message from yours truly. (In fact, the offer was of a photocopy of the former president smiling at the camera with a facsimile of his signature printed on it in gold ink.)
Other emails promised donors a Trump gold card or a seat on Trump’s advisory board. The gold card is purely figurative, and what the board does or even if it exists is a moot point.
But the biggest prize of all was reserved for only Trump’s most dedicated supporters. They could apply to be crowned Grand King MAGA or, as a separate email sent on Friday indicated, they could join the first-ever list of official ULTRA MAGA 2022 MEMBERS.
All at a price, of course.
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