The torrent of Donald-Trump-is-a-debauched-amoral-criminal news yesterday drowned out this revealing piece from Dan Alexander, who works the Donald-Trump-is-a-debauched-amoral-criminal beat for Forbes magazine.
Seems Trump has been taking in campaign donations since inauguration day when he officially launched his 2020 reelection campaign and has been using them to line his own pockets. (You may remember inauguration day; it was when you realized it’s virtually impossible to kill yourself with pound cake, NyQuil, and Costco gin before falling asleep in the bathtub desperately clutching a Tickle Me Elmo you’ve somehow never laid eyes on before.)
Donations poured in from more than 50,000 people across the country. But according to the latest federal filings, Trump still has not donated a penny of his own, while his businesses continued to charge the campaign for hotels, food, rent and legal consulting. That means the richest president in American history has turned $1.1 million from donors across the country into revenue for himself.
Because of course, he did. And the Trump cultists are only too happy to help.
Here’s the thing with Donald Trump, though. Everything he does is a grift, and his greed simply knows no bounds. If at any point he’d thought Don Jr. had swallowed a quarter, he’d have put on a mask and snorkel, sliced him open like a tauntaun, and dived in like Hooper in the third act of Jaws.
Trump Tower Commercial LLC, an entity owned 100% by the president, has charged the reelection campaign $665,000 in rent, according to federal filings. The Republican National Committee also coordinated with the campaign to pay an additional $225,000 in rent. Campaign representatives did not respond to requests for comment, and an RNC official declined to answer questions about the payments, leaving it unclear exactly how much space they leased inside Trump Tower.
But it appears to be plenty. Leading up to the 2016 election, the president’s campaign paid an average of $2,700 in monthly Trump Tower rent for every person listed in campaign filings as receiving a “payroll” payment. The 2020 operation, by contrast, is shelling out an average of $6,300 in monthly rent for every such person.
Oh, but here’s the thing, though. One of the Trump properties charging rent to the Trump campaign appears to be accommodating literally no one having anything to do with the Trump campaign. If you wanted to be charitable you’d call this dishonest. If not, you might call it fraud.
Trump Plaza LLC has received $42,000 from the Trump campaign since November 2017 for “rent,” but it’s unclear what the campaign is actually using that space for (other than grifting Trump’s famously incurious followers, that is).
So Forbes staked out the buildings, arriving at 7:15 a.m. one November morning and staying for the next 14 hours, with the exception of an 18-minute break around 3 p.m. By our count, seven people went in and out of the twin, four-story brownstones over the course of the day. One refused to talk, and six said they had not seen any sign of the campaign in the buildings. Nor had a man behind the front desk at Trump Plaza. “I’ve been here since the beginning,” he said. “If there was any kind of office rented out for campaigning or whatever, I would know about it.”
Oh, and that’s not all!
There are other campaign payments that raise suspicions. One month after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, the campaign paid the Trump Corporation, another one of the president’s companies, $90,000 in “legal consulting” expenses, according to federal records. It is not clear what legal services Trump’s company provided the campaign, or what rate it charged for the work. A spokesperson for the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.
This is what happens when you elect a lifelong conman as your president. He fucking cons you.
So if you happened to send a donation to Donald Trump’s reelection campaign at any time since January 2017, you might want to ask him what happened to it.
Don’t expect an answer.