While his own team clarified that there was no indication from prosecutors that he had yet been charged or would be imminently arrested, the former president’s claims fanned the flames of unrest with incendiary rhetoric and demands that his supporters “protest, protest, protest” a then-unannounced decision, with Mr Trump’s allies rushing to his defence and mounting an offensive on his behalf.
That blitz of free press and his narrative of political persecution helped his campaign raise millions of dollars within a matter of days. Fundraising emails and social media posts include press clippings from The New York Times and Fox News while he urges his followers to “defend our movement”.
The former president’s campaign boasted that he raised more than $4m in the 24 hours after New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s announcement of the indictment, which Mr Trump’s campaign called the “unprecedented political persecution of the president”. Within three days, Mr Trump’s campaign reportedly raised $7m.
The indictment, which remains under seal, reportedly involves more than two dozen criminal charges against Mr Trump in connection with hush money payments to an adult film star in days before his 2016 presidential election.
After his “arrest” and “protest” statements on Truth Social ignited a media frenzy on 18 March, his campaign sent a fundraising email with a headline from a Fox News story about the former president’s prediction. The email tells supporters that “you’re our country’s only hope.”
“If the current Democrat regime can get away with threatening to arrest its biggest political opponent, then our once great Republic will have fully descended into a third-world tyranny,” according to the message, which solicits donations to “peacefully show your support for the America First movement.”
That same day, he posted a fundraising campaign video on his Truth Social account.
“If you are doing poorly, as so many of you are, do not send anything. If you are doing well, which was made possible through the great policies of the Trump Administration, send your contribution,” wrote Mr Trump, adding a link to his website for donations.
In another message, the campaign urges supporters to sign a petition – sending them a link to a fundraising page instead – that will compile “millions and millions of petition signatures from Americans like you CONDEMNING these threats of possible arrest.”
“Signing” the petition sends users to a donation link for a suggested sums of $500, $1,000 or $3,300 towards Mr Trump’s campaign.
“They’re trying to intimidate YOU and cancel out YOUR vote!” the email states.
Another email from the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, the primary fundraising vehicle for his 2024 campaign and leadership political action committee, called on supporters to “make a contribution of any amount to show that you will never surrender as the witch hunts heat up like never before”.
The email echoes right-wing attacks calling New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is Black, a “racist”, and invokes the antisemitic conspiracy theory surrounding Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who donated to advocacy group Color of Change, which supported Mr Bragg’s election.
“A racist Soros-funded prosecutor is answering his puppet master’s call to take down our America First movement,” the message states. “But patriots all over America are stepping up to defend the greatest political movement in history and declaring, ‘we will never surrender’ the fight to Make America Great Again.”
“The Radical Left – the enemy of the hard-working men and women of this country – have INDICTED me in a disgusting witch hunt,” one ad on Facebook stated.
The post also promised donors their “very own ‘I Stand with President Trump’ T-shirt for FREE.”
The messages may be the fundraising jolt his campaign needs after a relatively slow start to his 2024 push, though his campaign war chest has amassed tens of millions of dollars.
His campaign raised roughly $9.5m within the six weeks after his formal campaign launch on 15 November 2022, a smaller haul than the roughly $11.8m raised by Trump-affiliated entities in the six weeks preceding his 2024 announcement.
The Save America Joint Fundraising Committee reported raising $17m during the entire three-month period from April through June of 2022, including a little under $6m for the Save America PAC itself, reflecting a significant drop off from the massive hauls the campaign was receiving in the aftermath of the 2020 election.
The House select committee investigating the attack on the US Capitol reported that Mr Trump’s fundraising arms collected more than $100m in the first week after Election Day in 2020 alone.
His campaign and allies raised $250m from their baseless claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, the committee found. Last year, the panel’s senior investigative counsel Amanda Wick said Mr Trump’s campaign “pushed false election claims to fundraise, telling supporters it would be used to fight voter fraud that did not exist.”
Following the FBI search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago compound in August 2022, his son Eric Trump claimed that the campaign was “shattering all fundraising records” and “raised more money in the past 24 hours than ever before in recent history”.
Mr Trump’s political action committee also sent out a fundraising email after the search, urging supporters to “rush in a donation IMMEDIATELY to publicly stand with me against this NEVERENDING WITCH HUNT.”
Daily hauls typically hovered around $200,000 to $300,000 at the time. The campaign reportedly topped $1m on at least two days after the search.
This story was initially published on 22 March and has been updated with developments
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