July 25, 2021

Trump’s Future: Tons of Cash and Plenty of Options for Spending It

Donald J. Trump will exit the White House as a private citizen next month perched atop a pile of campaign cash unheard-of for an outgoing president, and with few legal limits on how he can spend it.

Deflated by a loss he has yet to acknowledge, Trump has cushioned the blow by coaxing huge sums of money from his loyal supporters — often under dubious pretenses — raising roughly $250 million since Election Day along with the national party.

More than $60 million of that sum has gone to a new political action committee, according to people familiar with the matter, which Trump will control after he leaves office. Those funds, which far exceed what previous outgoing presidents had at their disposal, provide him with tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions: He could use the money to quell rebel factions within the party, reward loyalists, fund his travels and rallies, hire staff, pay legal bills and even lay the groundwork for a far-from-certain 2024 run.

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The postelection blitz of fundraising has cemented Trump’s position as an unrivaled force and the preeminent fundraiser of the Republican Party, even in defeat. His largest single day for online donations actually came after Election Day — raising almost $750,000 per hour Nov. 6. So did his second-biggest day. And his third.

“Right now, he is the Republican Party,” said John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster who worked on Trump’s reelection campaign. “The party knows that virtually every dollar they’ve raised in the last four years, it’s because of Donald Trump.”

Trump has long acted with few inhibitions when it comes to spending other people’s money, and he has spent millions of campaign dollars on his own family businesses in the last five years. But new records show an even more intricate intermingling of Trump’s political and familial interests than was previously known.

Lara Trump, Trump’s daughter-in-law and a senior campaign adviser, served on the board — and was named on drafts of the incorporation papers — of a limited liability company through which the Trump political operation spent more than $700 million since 2019, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The arrangement has never been disclosed. One of the other board members and signatories in the draft papers of the LLC, American Made Media Consultants, was John Pence, the nephew of Vice President Mike Pence and a senior Trump adviser. The LLC has been criticized for purposefully obscuring the ultimate destination of hundreds of millions of dollars of spending.

Lara Trump and John Pence were originally listed as president and vice president on the incorporation papers, documents reviewed by the Times showed. Sean Dollman, the campaign chief financial officer, was the AMMC treasurer.

“Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the AMMC board in October 2019 to focus solely on their campaign activities; however, there was never any ethical or legal reason why they could not serve on the board in the first place,” said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for Trump. “John and Lara were not compensated by AMMC for their service as board members.” Murtaugh also said the two were not compensated for other positions they were listed as holding.

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