Trump sees diminishing fundraising returns from combative court appearances

Written by Jason Lange, Alexandra Ulmer, and Andrew Godsward

Washington (Reuters) – Donald Trump He has made his myriad legal troubles a central focus of his presidential campaign, but after raising millions during his first court appearance last year, he saw fundraising decline sharply due to his sometimes combative clashes with judges.

Trump’s main fundraising group raised about $4 million in each of his two largest single-day campaigns last year: on April 4 after he pleaded not guilty to charges related to hush money payments to a porn star, and on August 25 after he pleaded not guilty On the charges against him. Accusations of election fraud in Georgia, as revealed by WinRed, the dominant online fundraising platform for Republicans.

By the final three months of the year, Trump’s fundraising over days in court was close to his daily average for the year of just under $300,000, according to WinRed’s most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday.

On December 7, when Trump appeared in a Manhattan court in a civil fraud trial, his main fundraising group reported receiving about $200,000 in online contributions. On November 6, as Trump and Judge Arthur Engoron repeatedly raised their voices during their civil trial appearance, the group had raised less than $400,000 through WinRed.

The recent slowdown suggests Trump is getting diminishing returns from his legal troubles as he inches closer to his Republican party’s nomination to face Democratic incumbent President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Republican political strategist Jason Cabell Rowe said initial news about Trump’s indictments will have a greater impact than later developments.

“After weeks of media focus, people have become insensitive,” Kapil Rowe said.

Trump faces four criminal trials in addition to civil lawsuits. His campaign regularly sends emails to supporters linking his legal troubles to soliciting political input, sometimes including a photo of himself in the Georgia case.

He said he was innocent of all charges, and asserted without evidence that his trials were politically motivated. The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the apparent slowdown in fundraising.

Slower

Smaller daily campaigns around Trump’s legal troubles in late 2023 were part of a broader slowdown in his campaign fundraising.

His campaign reported that it generated $19 million in the last three months of 2023, compared to about $25 million in the previous three months. The Biden campaign took in $33 million in the fourth quarter.

Trump’s legal troubles also show increasing signs of being a direct drag on the finances of his campaign efforts.

The major political action committee backing his bid transferred $30 million in the second half of 2023 to another Trump group that pays his legal bills. The money represents nearly two-thirds of what the super PAC, known as MAGA Inc, raised from mostly wealthy donors during this period.

Trump has certainly shown that he can win elections when outgunned by rivals — defeating Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016 and handily beating former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, backed by some major anti-Trump donors, in the Republican primary this year. The election. turn.

The lion’s share of Trump’s legal spending in the last six months of 2023 was focused on the civil fraud lawsuit brought by the New York Attorney General’s Office.

During that period, Trump’s Save America political action committee awarded nearly $14 million to law firms representing Trump and his adult children in the case and nearly $900,000 to an accounting expert who testified in his defense.

It’s not clear if all the money is tied to this case because the files only list payments to law firms and not the purpose of the spending. Trump’s lead attorney in the lawsuit, Christopher Casey, is also representing Trump in a federal criminal case accusing him of mishandling classified documents after leaving office.

Unlike the four criminal cases Trump faces, the civil fraud case went to trial starting in October 2023, requiring attorneys to appear almost daily in court for several weeks, resulting in billable hours.

(Reporting by Jason Lange and Andrew Godward in Washington and Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco; Editing by Scott Malone and Debba Babington)

(tags for translation)Donald Trump

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