A federal grand jury in Washington is examining the formation of — and spending by — a fund-raising operation created by Donald J. Trump after his loss in the 2020 election as he was soliciting millions of dollars by baselessly asserting that the results had been marred by widespread voting fraud.
According to subpoenas issued by the grand jury, the contents of which were described to The New York Times, the Justice Department is interested in the inner workings of Save America PAC, Mr. Trump’s main fund-raising vehicle after the election. Several similar subpoenas were sent on Wednesday to junior and midlevel aides who worked in the White House and for Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign.
The fact that federal prosecutors are now seeking information about the fund-raising operation is a significant new turn in an already sprawling criminal investigation into the roles that Mr. Trump and some of his allies played in trying to overturn the election, an array of efforts that culminated with the mob attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Circling back to our earlier coverage, it was in December 2020 when Trump’s operation pushed an avalanche of lies about the outcome, telling unsuspecting donors that their money would go toward challenging the election results that the then-president falsely claimed were illegitimate. The pitches were incredibly successful, at least insofar as they raised an enormous amount of money.
But it was the latest in a series of Trump grifts: Contributors’ money wasn’t going toward pointless recounts, silly audits, and hapless lawsuits. Rather, most of the funds went to the Save America PAC — derided by campaign-finance experts as “essentially a type of slush fund, with few restrictions on how the money they raise can be spent.”
After Trump left the White House, things got worse: The former president kept lying about the election, causing his followers to keep donating. One appeal last year told prospective donors, “We need you to join the fight to SECURE OUR ELECTIONS!” but none of the millions of dollars raised by Save America went toward any such efforts.
Trump’s Save America PAC was formed in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election and has raised $103.8 million as of July, according to disclosures made to the Federal Elections Commission and published by OpenSecrets.
The House January 6 Committee has accused Trump of asking donors after the election to contribute to an allegedly fake “Official Election Defense Fund” that purported to finance Trump’s efforts to overturn the election, but committee lawmakers allege actually just funneled money into the PAC—which has few restrictions on how money can be spent and can more broadly be used to fund Trump’s own expenses and pro-Trump allies and organizations.
Thousands of dollars in PAC money has flowed back into Trump’s own businesses, and Save America has garnered headlines for such expenditures as a $1 million donation to a group linked to former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, an alleged $60,000 payment to Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle for her speech at the January 6 rally that preceded the Capitol attack, as well as a $60,000 payment to former First Lady Melania Trump’s stylist and funding for her and Trump’s presidential portraits.
Last June The Guardian said Trump had raised about$250 million post election dollars.
The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack appeared to make the case at its second hearing that Donald Trump and his campaign engaged in potential fundraising fraud, raising $250m for a Trump “election defense fund” that did not actually exist.