Trump’s legal troubles keep fueling surges in fundraising

By Jason Lange and Alexandra Ulmer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Small donors have responded to Donald Trump’s legal problems by showering money on his presidential campaign, helping him roughly match the fundraising pace of Democratic President Joe Biden who is seeking re-election, according to disclosures released on Sunday.

More than $2 million surged into Trump’s coffers within a day of the Aug. 24 release of his mugshot after he was booked at a jail on Georgia state charges stemming from his attempts to overturn his 2020 election defeat, according to a disclosure the campaign submitted to the Federal Election Commission.

It was the biggest two-day sum the campaign has reported taking in this year, a sign that Trump’s legal problems, unprecedented for a former U.S. president, have become a major fundraising asset. Most of the contributions are less than $50.

Trump, who left office in 2021 and is the frontrunner for the Republican nomination for next year’s presidential election, faces four criminal trials over charges that also relate to mishandling classified documents and supposed hush money payments to a porn star.

Trump has denied all charges and he has argued that the cases are politically motivated.

“That is his super power,” said David Kochel, a Republican strategist not affiliated with any 2024 presidential campaign. “The more these prosecutors come for him, the more he says: ‘We’re in this together and I’m being attacked’.”

The Trump campaign’s most recent financial disclosure, for the three months through September, showed the campaign bringing in more than $700,000 on Aug. 1 when Trump was indicted on federal charges related to his effort to overturn his election loss.

The sums were on a par with inflows in early April when Trump became the first U.S. president – former or sitting – to be criminally charged.

Trump on Sunday reported to the Federal Election Commission that his campaign raised $24.5 million in the July-September period, up from about $17 million during the previous three months.

Biden’s campaign reported raising $24.8 million, up from nearly $20 million in the prior period.

Both campaigns use other accounts to raise money known as joint fundraising committees.

Trump’s campaign previously said it raised over $45 million in the third quarter, without giving details of how much joint fundraising raised and how much the joint committee spent raising that money.

The joint committees transfer money to the campaigns after deducting costs of fundraising, which include the cost of campaign-themed T-shirts and the digital campaigns employed to target donors. The Trump campaign didn’t respond to requests for details about fundraising by the joint committee.

Biden’s camp had previously said his campaign, the Democratic Party and their joint fundraising committees raised a combined $71 million.

Also running for the Republican presidential nomination are Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who both trail far behind frontrunner Trump.

DeSantis has seen his campaign stutter since launching in May, while Haley, who struggled for months to gain traction, has recently gathered momentum following strong debate performances.

(Reporting by Jason Lange in Washington and Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco; editing by Robert Birsel)