President Trump Is Grifting to the Bitter End, Baby

Illustration for article titled President Trump Is Grifting to the Bitter End, Baby
Image: MANDEL NGAN (Getty Images)
Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

It has been nearly a week since Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, and President Trump still refuses to face the facts. But while he won’t accept his demise, he will accept your hard-earned cash.

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The mountain of frivolous lawsuits and demands for recounts are costly, and the Trump team has set up a legal defense fund to aid in their fruitless and undoubtedly costly attempts to challenge his unfavorable election results. Trump’s loyal base is willing to fork over donations if it could potentially steal the election from Biden. But, as it turns out, most of the donations aren’t even going to the legal defense fund.

From Politico (emphasis ours):

Much of the money raised by Stepien and the Trump campaign won’t go towards challenging election results, however, but to help set the stage for the president’s next act. The Trump campaign has a recount fund, but the money won’t go to it unless someone gives more than $8,333. Rather, 60 percent of a donation up to that amount for Trump’s “Official Election Defense Fund” is routed to a new PAC started this week by the president that can pay for a wide range of activities — but is likely legally barred from spending on recounts, lawyers say. The remaining 40 percent goes to the Republican National Committee, which is allowed — but not required to — spend on the recount. Prior to Tuesday, the majority of a donation went to helping Trump’s campaign cover its debt.

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If you’re thinking, “Hmm, maybe that money will go right into Trump’s pocket” well... more or less.

In the coming months, Trump could use money from his new PAC, called Save America — the existence of which was reported for the first time by The New York Times on Monday — to travel the country and stage rallies, which can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He could promote candidates who were loyal to him and make donations to their campaigns. And, if he wanted to, he could place his family members and former administration officials on payroll, and continue to host lavish events at his properties without tripping up campaign finance law.

There you have it. It looks like Trump—a man who advisers say is already eyeing a 2024 run—is funding his political future and asserting himself as a powerful force in the Republican Party even after he leaves office. The grift never ends.


Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote an op-ed for USA Today on Wednesday, urging everyone blaming the left for Democratic losses in the House and Senate to kindly shut the fuck up.

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“Corporate Democrats are attacking so-called far-left policies like Medicare for All and the Green New Deal for election defeats in the House and the Senate,” Sanders wrote. “They are dead wrong.”

Sanders pointed out that 112 co-sponsors of Medicare for All were on the ballot in November; they all won. Additionally, 98 co-sponsors of the Green New Deal were on the ballot, and all but one won.

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From USA Today:

It turns out that supporting universal health care during a pandemic and enacting major investments in renewable energy as we face the existential threat to our planet from climate change is not just good public policy. It also is good politics. According to an exit poll from Fox News, no bastion of socialism, 72% of voters favored the change “to a government-run health care plan” and 70% of voters supported “increasing government spending on green and renewable energy.”

The lesson is not to abandon popular policies like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, living wage jobs, criminal justice reform and universal child care, but to enact an agenda that speaks to the economic desperation being felt by the working class — Black, white, Latino, Asian American and Native American. People are hurting, and they are crying out for help. We must respond.

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He went on to note that progressive legislation passed in many states—both red and blue. For example, Floridians voted in favor of a measure that raised the minimum wage to $15. Meanwhile, Democrats flopped in local races.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s not the progressive causes that are always turning off voters, but rather the way individual campaigns are run and implemented.

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Leaked phone calls in the days since the election have made public the very real divide between the progressive and more moderate wings of the Democratic party. Abigail Spanberger blamed slogans like “defund the police” for costing the Democrats seats in the House, even though registration for Democrats increased during the summer that was marked by Black Lives Matter protests and—yes—calls to defund the police among activists. And Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, in a not so subtle jab at Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Talib, said, “Do we want to win, do we want to govern, or do we want to be internet celebrities?”

Ocasio-Cortez’s response to Jeffries was frank:

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Rep. James Clyburn kicked off an argument that it was “defund the police” sloganeering that cost Senate hopeful Jamie Harrison his shot at winning longtime incumbent Republican Lindsey Graham’s seat. Perhaps the Democrats are better off figuring out what messaging works best where and looking beyond right-wing scare tactics for reasons why the party flopped in House and Senate races. But that makes too much sense!


  • Trump’s refusal to concede to Biden puts any plans to tackle covid-19 on ice... which will only lead to more deaths. [Daily Beast]
  • Did you catch Rep. Matt Gaetz send a flirty tweet to Tiffany Trump?
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  • And did you see Tiffany Trump’s response? What does her boyfriend think, I wonder.
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  • Trump wants to create a media empire to take on Fox News, a network he apparently hates now that they won’t act as his sycophantic propaganda outfit anymore. [Axios]
  • The Trump team has dropped their fight to stop the count of mail-in ballots in Nevada, but they still have two pathetic lawsuits in the state. [AP]
  • Arizona’s Attorney General isn’t buying Team Trump’s voter fraud claims in that state either. [Washington Post]
  • As usual, something weird is going on in Florida.
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  • In a real nail-biter, Rep. Lauren Underwood won her re-election campaign.
  • In other nice Congressional news... aw.
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  • She’s running... again. After helping Joe Biden’s potentially nab Georgia in the presidential election, Stacey Abrams is eyeing another gubernatorial run in the state. [Daily Beast]
  • Exactly:

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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DISCUSSION

The reason I almost want Trump to go for that media empire, supposedly it would be built off of OAN, is that not only would it split some of the audience from Fox’s talking heads, but Trump is such a horrible businessman that watching its inevitable collapse would hilarious.