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Trump's fundraising hauls challenge the ‘crime doesn’t pay’ adage

If there’s one thing Donald Trump and his political operation know how to do, it’s separate people who trust him from their money.


As former Gov. Chris Christie weighs his future electoral options, the New Jersey Republican took stock of Donald Trump’s indictment, calling the former president’s bravado “baloney.”

“He’s going to have to be mugshotted, fingerprinted and he’s going to face a criminal trial in Manhattan, and he’s not going to be able to avoid it,” Christie, a former prosecutor, said on ABC News. “You can’t make that a good day under any circumstances.”

Maybe not, but he can try. Axios reported over the weekend:

Former President Trump has raised more than $5 million since news of his indictment broke late Thursday — over $4 million in the first 24 hours and over $1 million in the second 24 hours, a Trump official told Axios on Saturday night.

This afternoon on Twitter, Jason Miller, a senior adviser to the former president, said the new post-indictment total is $7 million.

It’s important to emphasize that none of these figures has been independently confirmed, and it’ll be weeks before the Republican operation files financial records that substantiate the not-for-attribution boast. As a rule, it’s tough to take Team Trump’s claims at face value.

That said, the figures are hardly outlandish. In fact, they’re fairly easy to believe.

Trump arraignment: Follow our live blog beginning at 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday for the latest updates and analysis on Trump’s arrest in New York.

Some might be tempted to think an indictment would be ineffective as the basis for fundraising. After all, it seems like a tough sell for a politician to tell supporters, “Prosecutors and a grand jury are convinced I’m a criminal, so open your wallets now.”

But in Republican politics, especially when it comes to Trump and his followers, those assumptions are easily cast aside.

If there’s one thing the former president knows how to do, it’s separate people who trust him from their money. This was true after Trump lost his re-election bid, at which point his devotees donated millions for an “Official Election Defense Fund” that didn’t exist.

It was true two weeks ago, when the Republican raised $1.5 million after falsely telling his allies he’d be arrested on March 21.

And it was almost certainly true once the indictment news was confirmed, as Trump’s believers again agreed to throw their money at him, thanks in part to the sense of victimization that’s permeated his messaging for years, and thanks also to his political operation’s aggressive tactics — you saw the $47 t-shirt, right? — including the former president using his social media platform to beg for cash over and over and over again.

I don’t doubt that the Republican is worried, not only about the case from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, but also about the possibility of additional indictments. But for the folks overseeing Trump’s fundraising appeals, the developments couldn’t be better.