Donald Trump’s political action committee allegedly pulled a “grift” on the American people, shelling out $60,000 from donated funds to Donald Trump Jr’s fiancée Kimberly Guilfoyle. The payday was for a brief, two-and-a-half minute speech before the former president’s infamous 6 January, 2021, rally in Washington, according to a member of the 6 January investigative committee in Congress.
The former president’s future daughter-in-law gave brief remarks outside the White House on 6 January, where she claimed to the crowd, some of whom would eventually storm the Capitol, “We will continue to stand for president Trump, stand with him and for this country. We will not allow the liberals and the Democrats to steal our dream or steal our elections.”
That day, she was also pictured on Donald Trump Jr’s social media exhorting supporters to “have the courage to do the right thing, fight!”
Her conduct, and that of the larger Trump campaign, came under scrutiny during the ongoing 6 January committee hearings, which began their latest round last week.
Investigators said they had evidence that Donald Trump was warned by close advisers his claims of a stolen election were bogus, but that the former president pressed on anyway, using the so-called “Big Lie” to generate millions in donations for his Save America PAC, destined for use in a supposed “Official Election Defense Fund” that never actually existed.
"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," Amanda Wick, senior investigative counsel for the committee, said during Monday’s proceedings. "Most of the money raised went to this newly created PAC, not to election-related litigation," she added.
“I’m not saying it’s a crime, but I think it’s a grift,” Ms Lofgren added on CNN. “I think that was deceptive and not right.”
The Independent has reached out to Kimberly Guilfoyle and the leadership of the Save America PAC for comment.
“No funds from either Save America or the Presidential Committee were used to pay for any activities related to Jan. 6th,” Liz Harrington, a spokesperson for Donald Trump, said in a statement to The Independent.
The Save America PAC was created in November of 2020, shortly after it became clear Donald Trump was heading for an election loss.
The PAC was eventually able to raise $250m, largely from numerous small donors.
Rather than going to the former president’s scores of unsuccessful election challenge lawsuits, most of the PAC’s money has reportedly either remained in the bank, or gone to Trump properties or organisations affiliated with the former president and his allies. The PAC also apparently funded the former president’s suits against major social media platforms, which claimed he was “censored” for being booted off certain services following the 6 January riots.
The committee’s evidence surrounding the $60,000 speech may come from interviews this April, when Ms Guilfoyle was subpoenaed and gave a reported nine hours of testimony.
Investigators have also obtained her phone records.
“The president deceived his donors. He asked them to give money so he could contest the election results, but then he spent their contributions to pay off unrelated debts,” Adav Noti, a former associate general counsel at the Federal Election Commission, told The Guardian. “That’s dangerously close to fraud. If a regular charity – or an individual who didn’t happen to be president of the United States – had raised tens of millions of dollars through that sort of deception, they would face a serious risk of prosecution.”
Despite questions about its finances, the former president’s PAC is a fundraising juggernaut, having banked more than twice that of the Republican National Committee itself, as of this February.
It’s not the first time the Trump campaign orbit has come under scrutiny.
In May, his inaugural committee reached a $750,000 settlement with the city of Washington, DC, in a suit that claimed he overpaid his company to host inauguration events at the Trump hotel in the capital.
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