Former US President Donald Trump’s new political committee took in more than $30 million ($39.2 million) in the final weeks of 2020 as he made relentless and baseless claims of voter fraud, new filings show.
And Mr Trump’s Save America political action committee started this year with a substantial US $31.1m ($40.6m) in cash reserves, as the former president faces a second impeachment trial in the US Senate and works to cement his standing as an enduring force in Republican politics.
Sunday’s filings offer a snapshot of the continued financial backing from Mr Trump’s loyal supporter base. He formed Save America shortly after losing the election last November.
Even as his legal team’s claims of fraud were tossed out in courts around the country, Mr Trump aggressively sought new donations, imploring his contributors to help fund his “election defence.”
But the first and largest cut of contributions went to Save America, a major vehicle for his post-presidential political activity. He can use the leadership PAC to donate to other candidates, as well as fund travel and staffing. Federal rules set few restrictions on leadership PAC spending, which campaign watchdogs warn can become slush funds for politicians.
Save America spent little in the waning weeks of 2020, with a little more than US$200,000 ($216,417) going to underwrite merchant fees at the online fundraising platform, WinRed, the filings with the Federal Election Commission show. The filings cover activity between November 24 through December 31.
Mr Trump could face substantial legal expenses in the impeachment trial slated to begin in a little over a week in the Senate. As CNN first reported, Mr Trump suddenly lost his impeachment defense team with the departure of five lawyers over the weekend.
By Sunday evening, he had announced two new attorneys, David Schoen and Bruce L Castor Jr, would oversee his defense.
While Save America spent little in the final weeks of 2020, Mr Trump’s campaign committee racked up millions in expenses. They included more than US$4.4m ($5.75m) to roughly two dozen legal firms, and more than US$5m ($6.54m) in advertising that the campaign classified as recount expenses.
Millions more could be available to Mr Trump’s political operation as he works to extend his influence over the party.
His campaign account started January with US$10.7m ($13.99m) in remaining cash and a little more than US$2.7m ($3.53m) in debts, filings show. The Trump Make America Great Again Committee – a joint fundraising committee that has included the Republican National Committee, Mr Trump’s campaign and Save America – started the year with more than US$59.8m ($78.16m) remaining in its coffers – a portion of which could be destined for Mr Trump’s new PAC.
Save America already has become part of Mr Trump’s political infrastructure.
Following a meeting last week with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Save America issued a statement, declaring “President Trump’s popularity has never been stronger than it is today, and his endorsement means more than perhaps any endorsement at any time.”
The PAC also commissioned and released a poll on Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney’s reelection prospects as part of an effort to pay back the Republican for voting to impeach Mr Trump, and to issue a warning to other Republicans not to run afoul of the former president.