Follow the money: There could be a bright side to potential indictment for Trump

Follow the money: There could be a bright side to potential indictment for Trump

Follow the money: There could be a bright side to potential indictment for Trump

Some of Donald Trump's most devoted followers really aren't bothered about a possible indictment by a New York grand jury. In fact, those followers include Trump's staff and the former president himself.

The indictment has yet to arrive after a week of drama, twists and turns. A decision in the case is expected next week, according to media reports. Whether there's an arrest complete with "perp walk" and mug shot remains to be seen – and the idea of such might be disturbing to many Americans. But Trump, it appears, sees a possible indictment as an opportunity. He needs cash, investigative journalist Pedro Gonzalez says.

Gonzalez, the politics editor for Chronicles magazine, told American Family Radio talk-show host Jenna Ellis on Friday that the entire staff at Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Palm Beach resort, is giddy with anticipation.

"Everyone is being worked into this state of, 'It's the end of America, it's a banana republic,' but at Mar-a-Lago they're having the time of their lives," Gonzalez said. "There are all these reports coming out of Mar-a-Lago that Trump is actually looking forward to the indictment, that his team is basically looking at this as a PR stunt."

In social media posts last Friday Trump predicted his arrest would come earlier this week. Writing on his own social media platform Truth Social in all capital letters, Trump encouraged his followers to "PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK."

If grand protests are in the works, their planning is under the radar. Earlier in the week, CNN reported muted response to Trump's pleas citing a department intelligence assessment that said U.S. Capitol Police were not tracking "credible threats" to the seat of government.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg responded in an office email obtained by Politico telling employees, "We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York."

Gonzalez believes there's little chance of the public spectacle of an arrest – but argues that the actions of Trump's staff with media sources signal severe funding struggles.

Gonzalez, Pedro (journalist) Gonzalez

"What's incredible is how open they are about it. They're talking to the press, whether it's the Guardian or the New York Post, and they're openly saying, 'We love this.' Why? This sounds like a pretty bad time for America, right? Well, not for them – and part of it has to do with the fact that fundraising for the Trump campaign has actually been pretty awful," Gonzalez said.

He cited an Associated Press report that said the Trump campaign has $25 million in available cash, down more than $100 million at this time last year.

Read between the lines

With the books about to close on the FCC's first-quarter reporting period for 2023, the campaign could use an infusion of cash. A Trump team exchange with The Daily Mail confirms the funding issues, Gonzalez said.

"His team actually told The Daily Mail, 'So far we've made $1.5 million since we announced Friday that Trump was going to be arrested on Tuesday' – which of course didn't happen – but they actually confirmed the numbers to The Daily Mail, which is shocking for two reasons," Gonzalez said.

"One, it basically confirms that I was right; but then on the other hand, only $1.5 million? You're telling people this is the end of America as we know it and you've only managed to pull in $1.5 million. That kind of tells you that they are actually worried about money because there's not a lot coming in."

Getting Trump's name front and center in the minds of Americans with something like an indictment might be good for the campaign, but during their exchange both Gonzalez and Ellis urged supporters to be savvy with their debit cards and checkbooks.

As they described, modern-day giving can be as easy as clicking a link that appears on one's cell phone – but there are a lot of hands in the fundraising pie, they warned, and the percentage of each dollar that goes to the actual candidate or cause is often very low.

Misleading solicitations

"There have been tons of fundraising solicitations that are going out that are related to this [indictment]. You might say, 'Okay, that's totally understandable, that Trump is making lemonade with lemons.' But if you look at the fundraising solicitations, they're often misleading," said the investigative journalist.

"There are texts going out that are like, 'Trump in handcuffs? Text money to this number to make sure that doesn't happen.' Then you click the link, and it looks like you're giving money to Trump. But if you read the fine print, it's actually going to some random Senate Republican."

Trump assisting the party might be a noble thing in the eyes of some, but opinions vary.

"Trump is helping the GOP – which everyone agrees is corrupt, especially the Senate – fund-raise off this stuff, and it's just the most remarkable and shameless thing that I have seen in a long time because it's preying on peoples' emotions and patriotism," Gonzalez said.

Ellis shared that she has previously called for an audit of the RNC, but noted that no party or side fundraising organization seems exempt from questionable practices.

"The entire fundraising mechanism, and I'll call it a scheme, in Washington … on all sides. People have to remember that the RNC, the DNC, WinRed, the NRSC and all of these three- and four-letter organizations in Washington, even though they're private they're no different than government in the sense that they are not revenue-generating institutions. They're not capitalists in that sense. They rely solely on donations," Ellis said.

Indeed, avenues for funding are limited in an environment where dollars and power are closely connected. Consequently, warned the radio show host, it's a model that requires the giver to bear the burden of awareness.

"I have seen so many things that are really misleading on all sides that say 'click here and give this for a candidate' – and you actually go down to [the fine print] and it's like out of every $1 like 1 cent goes to the candidates' campaign and 99 cents goes to like the RNC. I think that's shameful," Ellis said.