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Trump’s Donor Love Language

donald trump
Many recent Trump donors are the same Republicans who previously supported Ron DeSantis or Nikki Haley and are now seeking a justification for slipping back into Trump’s good graces before the window of opportunity closes. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Tara Palmeri
February 22, 2024

Among the sharpest of Donald Trump’s political gifts has always been his ability to exploit victimhood, real or perceived, but especially his own. And indeed, Trump has a legitimate claim to being at least among the most prosecuted men in America: twice impeached, indicted on 91 felony charges, found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, and facing the potential dissolution of his business empire. This litany of alleged misdeeds is among the reasons that his presidential campaign currently has just $30 million in the bank—about half of Joe Biden’s cash on hand. Around this time last cycle, Trump had $229 million in his campaign war chest and Biden had just $70 million. 

Over the last week, however, the mood toward Trump and his legal obligations appears to have shifted in the Republican donor universe, or at least pivoted slightly. On Friday, of course, a judge in New York found the former president liable for conspiring to manipulate his net worth and ordered him to pay some $355 million in penalties, plus interest. In another era, a stunning financial judgment might have compelled party elders to second-guess the wisdom of his nomination. But, as with his first criminal indictment in New York (and then the indictment in Miami… and in Georgia… and in Washington, D.C.), Republicans are rallying to his cause.