That means between Oct. 15 and Nov. 23, Trump raised an average of nearly $13 million per day — a massive amount fueled by a deluge of email and text fundraising appeals sent out by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for the president’s campaign, the Republican Party and Trump’s new leadership PAC, Save America.
The figures were announced by the campaign Thursday and are to be made public in federal filings this month and in January. The Biden campaign had not released figures as of Thursday evening.
“These tremendous fundraising numbers show President Trump remains the leader and source of energy for the Republican Party, and that his supporters are dedicated to fighting for the rightful, legal outcome of the 2020 general election,” Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement. “It also positions President Trump to continue leading the fight to clean up our corrupt elections process in so many areas around the country, and to build on gains from the 2020 elections so we can take back the House and build on our Senate majority in 2022.”
Much of the money raised since the election probably will go into Save America, a political action committee that the president can use for various activities after he leaves office. Some of the contributions will go toward what is left of the president’s legal fights over the certification of election results, which have failed to gain traction in the courts.
Since late October, the Trump campaign spent $8.8 million on bringing legal challenges to election results in key states, including recounts. Of that amount, $30,000 in legal consulting fees went to Jenna Ellis, one of the most prominent lawyers on Trump’s post-election legal team, according to federal filings made public Thursday night. More legal fees are expected to be reported in upcoming filings.
By far the most common theme in the hundreds of donation requests sent in November was an appeal for contributions to the “Election Defense Fund,” a nonexistent fundraising account that the president’s campaign has been touting in hyperbolic language about voter fraud and election integrity.
“We cannot afford a Joe Biden presidency. We must FIGHT for the future the American People TRULY support: FOUR MORE YEARS OF PRESIDENT TRUMP,” one email read. “Will you allow the CORRUPT Democrats to try to STEAL this Election and impart their RADICAL agenda on our Country? Or will you step UP and DEFEND your Country?”
The surge of contributions has come largely from small-dollar donors, campaign officials have said, tapping into the president’s base of loyal and fervent financial supporters who tend to contribute the most when they feel the president is under siege or facing unfair political attacks.
The campaign has sent 498 post-election fundraising pitches to donors, setting a monthly record for Trump fundraising appeals, according to @TrumpEmail, a Twitter account that has tracked the president’s fundraising requests since January 2018.
The contributions, from thousands of donors across the country, are deposited into several accounts, including Save America, which is loosely regulated and could be used to personally benefit the president after he leaves the White House.
According to the fine print in the latest fundraising appeals, 75 percent of each contribution to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee would first go toward the Save America leadership PAC and the rest would be shared by the campaign and Republican Party committees. This effectively means that the vast majority of low-dollar donations under the agreement would go toward financing the president’s new leadership PAC instead of buttressing efforts to support the party or to finance voting lawsuits.
Leadership PAC funds cannot be used for campaign purposes, including campaign-related litigation. But beyond that, there are few other restrictions on how the leadership PAC money can be spent.
On Nov. 18, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee struck a formal agreement with Save America, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee to raise money together through the joint fundraising committee and share the funds, according to federal records. By Nov. 19, the contribution share to Save America PAC had changed to 75 percent from the 60 percent it had been for more than a week, according to a review of the fundraising appeals.
Josh Dawsey contributed to this report.