Trump seizes on likely indictment to pass begging bowl for 2024 campaign

<span>Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Donald Trump is attempting to capitalize on his anticipated arrest over hush money payments to an adult film star by bombarding supporters with fundraising emails to support his presidential election campaign.

In a series of messages in recent days Trump and his acolytes have urged people to donate to the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, established to support Trump’s bid for president in 2024.

The emails paint Trump as the victim of a political agenda of a varying cast of “globalist power brokers”, the “deep state” and “witch hunt-crazed radicals”. Each ends with a plea for donations, the language used changing slightly each time.

“If this political persecution goes unchallenged, one day it won’t be me they’re targeting … It’ll be you,” said an email from Trump on Sunday.

The fundraising attempt comes as a grand jury prepares to deliver a verdict on whether to indict Trump over his alleged role in a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, who claims the pair slept together. Trump has denied they had sex.

Over the weekend Trump claimed he would be arrested on Tuesday, but his representatives later said he was citing media reports and leaks, and had no information about a potential arraignment.

The barrage of emails are often written in an urgent and pleading tone.

“Please make a contribution to SAVE OUR COUNTRY now that the stakes have NEVER been higher.”

It was accompanied by links to donate up to $250 to the Trump committee.

They can also strike a tone of conspiracy theory.

“These are truly dark times …” began an email sent by Trump on Monday. “The Deep State and George Soros’ globalist cabal of thugs think that by coming for me they can intimidate YOU out of voting for a president who will always put the PEOPLE first.

“Please make a contribution of just $1 today to cement your place as a FOUNDING DEFENDER of our movement in what truly is the darkest chapter in our nation’s history.”

Trump’s pleas for money could make sense given his relatively poor fundraising so far. Between 15 November 2022, when Trump announced his run for president, and 31 December 2022 Trump’s campaign said he had raised $9.5m, or $201,600 a day. The New York Times reported that the total paled in comparison to the amounts raised by previous presidential frontrunners like Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton.

In his 2016 campaign Bush, who entered the race as the favorite, raised an average of $762,000 a day after announcing his candidacy, the New York Times reported. Clinton averaged $594,400 a day following her 2016 announcement.

On Tuesday, as barriers were placed around the Manhattan criminal courthouse in New York City, an email from Trump’s re-election campaign shared a photo of the scene in another fundraising email, asking supporters to: “Please make a contribution to stand with President Trump at this critical moment.”

The email again contained links to donate to the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, Trump’s principal campaign arm. The committee had just $3.8m cash on hand at the end of 2022, according to its filings with the Federal Election Commission, despite having raised more than $151m over the previous two years.

The committee spent $141m over that period, including a $1,696 payment to Trump Hotel Collection. It also spent thousands of dollars advertising on Facebook and Newsmax, the rightwing news channel which champions Trump on a near-daily basis, while book purchases accounted for a surprising amount of expenditure.

In September 2022 the committee spent $157,977.50, across two purchases, on books from the Books a Million retailer alone. The Books a Million website lists several books authored by Trump as out of stock.

The committee also bought $47,689.40 worth of books from Winning Team Publishing in May 2022. Donald Trump Jr, Trump’s son, is the co-founder of Winning Team Publishing, which, like Books a Million, is offering Trump’s upcoming book, Letters To Trump, for sale on its website.