The roughly $250 million that poured in after the election largely went to the former President’s political action committee, rather than to the “election integrity” effort touted to his donors, the committee said.
“The big lie was also a big rip-off,” said California Rep. Zoe Lofgren, one of the Democrats on the panel. After the hearing, Lofgren told CNN that the committee also has found evidence Trump and members of his family have personally benefited from donations that were advertised as going toward election fraud claims.
Trump aides did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the committee’s probe into his fundraising activities. Later Monday, Trump issued a 12-page statement in response to the hearing. It did not address his fundraising practices, but he called the committee a “Kangaroo Court.”
Adav Noti, a former Federal Election Commission official who is now vice president and legal director of the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group, said the committee painted a clear picture of underhanded activity by the former President and his team.
“If anybody else had raised $200 million under such obviously false pretenses, they would be prosecuted in federal court for fraud,” Noti said. “To raise that amount of money from unsophisticated donors, based on manifestly untrue statements, is what fraud prosecutions are made of.”
But Noti said that doesn’t mean that the Justice Department would seek to pursue what he said would be a “novel” fraud case over misleading fundraising appeals, particularly involving a then-sitting president.
But on Monday, the House committee attempted to lay out a money trail out for the public — and potentially for federal prosecutors — in a dot-connecting video presentation.
In the weeks after his loss, Trump’s political operation took in some $250 million — with roughly $100 million landing in the first week after Election Day, Amanda Wick, a senior investigative counsel for the committee, said in the video.
But Trump’s political action committee, Save America — rather than the “Official Election Defense Fund” that Trump promoted to donors — was the biggest beneficiary of those post-election campaign donations.
In fact, Wick indicated, there was no evidence that the election defense fund ever existed.
One former campaign staffer told investigators in one clip that she didn’t believe there “is actually a fund called the Election Defense Fund.” Another aide described it as a campaign marketing tactic in the video.
But the former President’s political action committee has sent $1 million to the nonprofit where former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is now a top official and another $1 million to the America First Policy Institute, home to several former Trump administration officials. Some $5 million went to the company that ran the January 6, 2021, rally on the Ellipse.
More than $200,000 has gone to Trump-owned hotels, Wick added.
The House committee, however, didn’t show much detail about what, if any, previously undisclosed financial documents it has obtained so far in its probe.
“Now, it’s for someone else to decide whether that’s criminal or not,” she added.
CNN’s Annie Grayer contributed to this story.
Quoted from Various Sources
Published for: The Bloggers Briefing