'A big ripoff': How Trump 'intentionally misled donors' while building his $250 million 'election defense' fund

'A big ripoff': How Trump 'intentionally misled donors' while building his $250 million 'election defense' fund
Former President Donald Trump speaking at a MAGA rally, hosted by Turning Point Action, at the Arizona Federal Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona on July 24, 2021, Gage Skidmore

The House Select Committee's investigation into the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol recently took another turn. When the panel gathered for its second hearing, they revealed former President Donald Trump and his campaign raised more than $250 million for his “election defense" fund; a fund that is actually non-existent.

A new analysis written by The Guardian's Hugo Lowell explores what the fundraising effort means and the possible consequences Trump could face for it. In short, the former president's actions suggest fraud has taken place.

"The select committee said through filings and other evidence, it found the Trump campaign raised $100m in the first week after the election and overall raised about $250m as it asked donors to help fundraise legal challenges to the results," Lowell wrote.

He added, "But the 'Official Election Defense Fund,' as it was billed on fundraising emails that were repeatedly sent up until 30 minutes before the Capitol attack, did not formally exist, according to Trump campaign aides Hannah Allred and Gary Coby, who testified to the panel."

Speaking during a recent segment on CNN, Lofgren criticized the fundraising effort. “The big lie was also a big ripoff,” Lofgren said of the deception at the hearing, later telling CNN: “He intentionally misled his donors, asked them to donate to a fund that didn’t exist, and used the money raised for something other than what it said.”

Lofgren's remarks came shortly after the House Select Committee laid the groundwork for its case against the former president. It was also noted that Trump advisors had admitted to him that the election had not been stolen.

"The admissions by Trump’s top officials are significant as they could put federal prosecutors one step closer to being able to charge Trump with obstructing an official proceeding or defrauding the United States on the basis of election fraud claims he knew were false," Lowell wrote."

He added, "The select committee in short made the case that if Trump is ever charged, he could not use the defense that he acted in potential criminal ways because he earnestly believed there was election fraud because he was told otherwise – the doctrine of 'wilful blindness.'"

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