These Capitol riot suspects increased their Trump donations after the election: 'It shows a direct tie'
In the United States, politicians usually don't ramp up their fundraising after losing a presidential election by more than 7 million votes. But former President Donald Trump was an exception in 2020, bringing in massive amounts of money by falsely claiming that the election was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. And according to NBC News reporter Allan Smith, some of the Trump voters who increased their donations after the November 3 election are now suspects in the January 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol Building.
In an article published by NBC News' website on March 24, Smith explains, "An NBC News analysis of campaign finance filings found that in the five weeks after the election, those charged in the Capitol riot increased their political donations by about 75% compared to the five weeks leading up to the election. Many had made very few or no donations at all in previous years, but they began escalating their numbers of contributions as Trump was trying to overturn Joe Biden's victory."
The events of late 2020 and early 2021 were unprecedented in United States history. Never before had a president who was voted out of office tried to overturn the election results through multiple lawsuits in state after state and brought in a fortune in donations in the process. Smith notes that "Trump and his aligned groups, including the Republican National Committee, raised $207.5 million in the 19 days after the election."
"Among the first 311 people who face federal charges after the January 6 riot," Smith reports, "about 90 have histories of making political contributions. And the overwhelming majority of them were made to Trump or his aligned groups and within the past year."
One of the Trump donors who stormed the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, according to federal prosecutors, was 63-year-old San Antonio resident James Uptmore. Smith reports that Uptmore "made just a single $250 donation to a Trump PAC between Trump's first run for president and the 2020 election" but made "nearly 40 donations to Trump, the RNC and aligned groups after Trump's loss."
Although Trump's claim of widespread voter fraud was a total lie — one that Fox News and other right-wing media outlets were happy to promote — that doesn't mean it wasn't effective. John Horgan, who operates the Violent Extremism Research Group at Georgia State University, told NBC News that he finds it "unsurprising" that Trump increased his fundraising after losing the 2020 election.
According to Horgan, "Trump successfully convinced many of his followers that unless they acted, and acted fast, their very way of life was about to come to an end. He presented a catastrophic scenario whereby if the election was — for him — lost, his followers would suffer as a result. He made action not just imperative, but urgent, convincing his followers that they needed to do everything they could now rather than later to prevent the 'enemy' from claiming victory."
Never Trump conservative and counterterrorism expert Elizabeth Neumann believes that the fact that so many of the Capitol rioters increased their donations after the election could be helpful to federal prosecutors. Neumann, who formerly served in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and supported Biden in 2020, told NBC News, "It shows a direct tie between the lies that the election was stolen and people's deepening passion for Trump — they were seeing the money roll in and knew that the messaging was working."
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