How to Steal $250 Million
And how the right-wing media was indispensable to Trump’s 2020 scam.
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It’s hard to surprise me anymore, and it’s certainly hard to surprise me with any revelation from the Trump White House or the Trump campaign. So I can’t say that I was surprised when the January 6th Commission exposed the Trump campaign’s remarkably dishonest fundraising operation after the November election. But I was enraged, and I was enraged in part because I know some of the people he conned. I know their sincerity, and I know exactly how the MAGA right monetizes both their faith and their fears.
The details are damning. All told, the Trump campaign raised a stunning amount of money to support an election steal effort that it knew was bogus from the beginning. Not only were the numbers staggering, millions of dollars were immediately diverted into the hands of Trump allies and Trump entities.
In short, the plot to overturn the election wasn’t just insurrection; it was also an extraordinary financial grift. The commission played a video featuring Amanda Wick, a senior investigative counsel for the committee, describing the scam:
"As the select committee has demonstrated, the Trump campaign knew these claims of voter fraud were false, yet they continued to barrage small dollar donors with emails, encouraging them to donate to something called an Official Election Defense Fund," Wick said.
"Claims that the election was stolen were so successful, President Trump and his allies raised $250 million, nearly $100 million in the first week after the election," Wick said.
She added that the committee discovered that the fund did not exist.
Instead, she said, Trump created a different entity called the Save America PAC and then funneled most of the funds into this new organization. it then “gave millions in contributions to pro-Trump organizations.”
How could this happen? How could so many people give so much money to a campaign that was transparently frivolous and—at times—incandescently amateurish? How could any person watch, for example, Rudy Giuliani’s display at Four Seasons Total Landscaping and believe their money was being well spent?
To understand the cash haul, you have to understand the mindset of the truly fervent Trump supporter—how they view Trump and how thoroughly they’ve been inoculated against any form of mainstream critique.