Early Saturday morning, Donald Trump jolted the political world a bit by declaring, by way of his social media platform, that he’d be “arrested“ on Tuesday. It wasn’t at all clear why in the world the former president made such a prediction and it was apparently based on his impressions of media accounts.
We now know, of course, that the Republican’s projection wasn’t true. If Fox News’ new report is accurate, his prediction was, however, quite lucrative.
Former President Donald Trump is quickly capitalizing — and cashing in — on his escalating legal predicaments. Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign confirmed to Fox News that they hauled in $1.5 million in grassroots fundraising in the three days following the former president’s warning on Saturday that he may face imminent indictment and potential arrest in connection with looming criminal charges from a district attorney in New York City.
None of these details have been independently confirmed, though The Washington Post had a related report, which wasn’t about fundraising, but which noted in passing that Team Trump raised “over $1.5 million since Saturday, a person familiar with the matter said.”
To put these numbers in context, in the six weeks following his 2024 campaign kickoff event, Trump raised roughly $9.5 million, for an average of roughly $224,000 per day. Since Saturday morning, if today’s reporting is accurate, the Republican has raised roughly $500,000 per day.
In other words, saying he’d be arrested gave Trump a significant boost — which might help explain why he made the false prediction in the first place.
In theory, it might seem impossible for a politician to turn the threat of indictment into a grift. In practice, the relationship between Trump and his followers is not normal.
Indeed, Trump is the first modern American politician to turn an election defeat into a lucrative opportunity.
Revisiting our earlier coverage, it was in December 2020 when the Republican’s operation pushed an avalanche of lies about the election held a month earlier, telling gullible 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 in 2021 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.
This took on new significance last year when the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack held one of its public hearings and highlighted Team Trump’s “Official Election Defense Fund.”
As one former Trump campaign staffer told the bipartisan congressional committee, “I don’t believe there is actually a fund called the ‘Election Defense Fund.’”
As we discussed soon after, the bulk of the money simply went to the former president’s super PAC.
Common sense might suggest that the public would see these developments, learn about the former president’s underhanded tactics, and his fundraising would dry up. After all, his schemes have been exposed. His willingness to exploit his supporters has been well documented, which should start closing wallets.
But Trump’s hold on his followers is strong — so the grift continues.
This post revises our related earlier coverage.