President Donald Trump speaks before signing an executive order establishing regulatory reform officers and task forces in US agencies in Washington, DC on February 24, 2017.
Olivier Douliery - Pool/Getty Images

Trump campaign turns DOJ ‘demand’ into fundraising opportunity

Politicians, just as a matter of course, are generally desperate to raise as much money as possible. They’re usually careful, however, about exploiting certain developments.

Donald Trump’s political operation has no such fears.

Last fall, for example, the president’s re-election campaign sent a solicitation to donors using the mass shooting in Las Vegas as the basis for a pitch. When the administration decided to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, that too was turned into a fundraising opportunity.

When Vice President Mike Pence left a football game because some players kneeled in protest against racial injustice, Trump’s campaign said donors should get out their checkbooks. A week earlier, the president’s operation even referenced disaster relief while asking for money.

But as Trump takes aim at our system of justice, using this a fundraising opportunity seems especially offensive. TPM noted yesterday afternoon:

President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign used his recent “demand” that the Justice Department investigate special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe in a fundraising email Monday.

“WORSE than Watergate,” the email’s subject line read. “I hereby DEMAND that the Department of Justice investigate whether Obama’s FBI and DOJ infiltrated or surveilled our campaign for political purposes,” the email, signed by Trump, reads. “THIS COULD BE THE GREATEST POLITICAL SCANDAL IN AMERICAN HISTORY.”

“I need you to sign your name right this second to join me in demanding this abuse of power gets investigated.”

The “petition,” of course, isn’t real; it’s just a common tactic to get donors engaged and more likely to contribute. In this case, folks sign the “petition” – giving Trump’s political operation their contact information for future use – they’re directed to a donation page. In small font, the page says, “Paid for by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.”

Realistically, it’s a stretch to think the president and his White House operation are engaged in a dangerous fight against the Justice Department simply to create the basis for a fundraising campaign. It’s much easier to believe Trump and his team, terrified of the special counsel’s investigation, launched their unprecedented offensive against federal law enforcement first, and then some development folks saw a potential opportunity second.

But that doesn’t make the latest fundraising scheme any less offensive.

It’s problematic enough that Trump is trying to use the Justice Department as a political tool to undermine an ongoing investigation in which he’s the subject. It adds insult to injury to see Trump’s campaign try to raise a buck off this, all the while deceiving his own supporters about an “infiltration” that never happened.

Donald Trump and Fundraising

Trump campaign turns DOJ 'demand' into fundraising opportunity