Report on Trump’s election interference case shows lots of evidence: A new Washington Post report this week shows that in the federal election interference probe, prosecutors are focusing on Donald Trump’s bogus claims about the election in fundraising.
What We Know
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has already indicted Donald Trump. However, much of the legal commentary about the case, from across the political spectrum, argued that some of the other potential cases against the former president were likely stronger than the Manhattan one.
Former Attorney General William Barr, for instance, speculated this week that in the Mar-a-Lago documents probe in particular, the federal government likely has more substantial evidence than in the Manhattan case.
Now, a new report looks at the strength of the other case being probed by the office of Special Counsel Jack Smith, that of the former President’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election.
Per The Washington Post, federal prosecutors working on the latter probe “have in recent weeks sought a wide range of documents related to fundraising after the 2020 election, looking to determine if former president Donald Trump or his advisers scammed donors by using false claims about voter fraud to raise money.”
The Post story cited “eight people” with knowledge of the investigation.
The report added that there have been recent subpoenas sent out to “Trump advisers and former campaign aides, Republican operatives and other consultants involved in the 2020 presidential campaign.”
The prosecutors, the Post said, are looking into whether anyone committed wire fraud, or criminal statutes that make it illegal to use email to make false claims in order to ask for money.
It is similar to the “We Build the Wall” case, in which several men were convicted of swindling Trump supporters out of donations they claimed were aimed at building a Southern border wall on private land. Trump had pardoned Steve Bannon, his former adviser, after Bannon was charged as part of that scheme, but Bannon’s three co-conspirators were convicted. Bannon, however, was later brought up on state charges in New York for his connection to the case.
“The subpoenas seek more specific types of communications so that prosecutors can compare what Trump allies and advisers were telling one another privately about the voter-fraud claims with what they were saying publicly in appeals that generated more than $200 million in donations from conservatives,” the Post said.
Donald Trump: How Much Legal Trouble Is He In?
The Post also said that the prosecutors are looking into something called the “Election Defense Fund,” which was mentioned in several Trump fundraising emails between Election Day and the end of the Trump presidency. Staffers had testified to the January 6 committee that “ references to the fund in pitches was a marketing tactic and no such segregated fund ever existed.”
At any rate, the newspaper said the fundraising efforts were very successful, with the Trump campaign raking in more money after the election was over than they did in some of the final weeks before it happened.
There is a long history in Trump fundraising, after all, of referring to other things that don’t exist, like the “Trump Donor Hall of Fame” — “I’ll be walking through the Hall of Fame later today and I’ll be looking for your name. Make sure I see it” — and using emotional blackmail about Trump being “disappointed” if a donation doesn’t arrive at that moment.
The report added that the subpoenas are an indication that Smith is moving quickly with his investigation. And it said that the documents case is “further along” than the election one.
In terms of the fundraising question, the key may hinge on whether the people responsible for such emails knew that the claims weren’t true.
“What they have found is that some of the campaign’s lawyers, and outside lawyers, did not always review the language closely for factual accuracy. While some of the emails were edited, these people said, others were approved by key figures in Trump’s orbit without close examination. At other times, they have found that some people involved in Trump’s campaign were uncomfortable with some of the fundraising language distributed to supporters,” the Post said.
Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.