Wednesday December 30th 2020
“You can’t be too greedy”
Trump is fighting for the straw company – and for 2024
From Roland Peters
The incumbent US President Trump is first and foremost a businessman – this has been made clear again and again during his tenure. Hundreds of millions of dollars went to a family company in the campaign year. One more reason to try again in 2024.
The US election will soon be over and the election campaign will continue. The loser takes care of that: Donald Trump. Hours after he was sworn in as US President in January 2017, he submitted the 2020 documents. Since then he has been collecting donations. Even after the election on November 3rd, he didn’t stop there. Why should a public figure like himself refuse potential sources of income?
Trump is going into the new year as an election loser, the handover will take place on January 20. The Democrat Joe Biden is then sworn in. If Trump were a politician of the usual kind, his career ladder would now have a missing rung; Trump is only the fourth US president with only one term since World War II. He could now retire to his retirement like other ex-presidents, or maybe apply for a senator somewhere in the future, for example in the Mar-a-Lago state of Florida, where he has many supporters. That would suit the Republicans well too. Trump is by no means burned. In view of his polls, he is even considered the top candidate for 2024.
This is important for Trump: He needs the attention to fuel his business. In the years to come, he will have to repay hundreds of millions of dollars in debt. The last major election campaign helped his family in questionable ways. Half of Republican election campaign spending, mostly raised through donations, went to a straw company called American Media Consultants Corporation (AMMC). Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner helped found the company in early 2018, writes Business Insider.
Overall, Trump’s campaigners officially received nearly $ 785 million for their activities. By November 20, Donald J. Trump for President and the Republican leadership had paid AMMC nearly $ 760 million. The straw company paid advertisements with this, but also financed vague tasks such as “digital advice” or “research advice”. In September alone, Trump is said to have “burned” half of the election campaign funds, as Bloomberg reported. The people at AMMC may have been responsible for this, and they may have acted entirely in the spirit of the President: “You can’t be too greedy,” is one of his better-known bon mots. Trump’s campaign team has never stopped soliciting donations. Furthermore, its website looks like it was about giving money to expose alleged Democratic electoral fraud. In fact, most of the donations are used for another purpose: paying off campaign debts.
Mysterious lack of money
When Trump canceled the TV spots booked in September, the US media suspected that there were strategic reasons behind this because of Trump’s ongoing polls. But maybe Trump simply didn’t want (or couldn’t) pay. How the mysterious lack of money came about is not entirely clear. But an independent democracy think tank had already filed a lawsuit in June: According to the AMMC laundered Trump’s family campaign funds and concealed the recipients. Examples are Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, friend of Donald Trump Junior. The boss of the company is Lara, her vice a nephew of US Vice President Mike Pence.
But Trump is not just about the money, he obviously wants to stay in power. There are two main initiatives Republican MPs are using to show their support to the president. On the one hand, some Republicans want to challenge the election results from several states. In addition, a Republican MP and several party colleagues have sued Vice President Mike Pence, who, according to the law, must finally announce Biden’s victory. According to the lawsuit, the results from Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are in doubt, which is why Pence can choose its own electorate. They, according to the scenario, then vote for Trump and make him president again.
The chances of success of these initiatives are practically zero. Both can help Trump and keep the Republicans on fire because they feed the legend that he didn’t lose the election. Trump only briefly made a secret of the fact that he only wanted to serve his base – when he said at the beginning of his term that he wanted to be the president of all Americans. After initially going through brief phases of anger over the fact that he was being treated so unfairly (probably with the immovable conviction that he was doing everything right), he then remained almost always on an aggressive offensive. Those four years of victim and winner myth solidified its base.
It’s a question of when
Since even Trump should be clear that his fight to remain in the White House is lost, he is, according to the US media, sounding out a renewed candidacy for 2024: For days he telephoned confidants, such as the “Fox News” commentator Sean Hannity , and asked how he could get more attention and extend the election campaign by four years, “Politico” reported in mid-December. Accordingly, many from Trump’s circle consider a renewed candidacy to be likely as long as there is a chance of victory. “The question is not whether he will announce it, but when,” a source close to Trump is quoted as saying. The discussion is therefore whether it should happen on Biden’s inauguration day on January 20 or afterwards.
So far, there have only been two US politicians who have been nominated for a party as a candidate again after losing an election: Richard Nixon in 1968 and, long before that, Grover Cleveland in 1892. Only the latter was incumbent like Trump when he lost, but made it four years later, still to be won. So Trump would not be the first to succeed. However, Trump must also manage to avoid a judicial conviction in these years, because it would exclude a candidacy. So far, Trump has escaped impeachment, was bankrupt six times, was reported 26 times for sexual harassment or worse, and has survived an estimated 4,000 lawsuits against himself, lists the “New York Magazine”.
But one thing should give Trump hope and scare off potential rivals: never before has a president been voted out who continued to have so much support from his potential electorate: according to Gallup, 89 percent of Republicans. This was already indicated in the by-election surveys. Never since the first polls on election day in 1972 has a Republican candidate achieved a higher approval rating among conservatives and Republicans: 85 percent of those who call themselves conservative and 94 percent of those who call themselves Republicans designated.