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Trump Under Pressure To Spend PAC Money On His Midterm Picks

By Jarrett Renshaw and Alexandra Ulmer

(Reuters) - Former President Donald Trump is weighing how much to spend and how many Republican candidates to fund in this year's elections as he faces pressure to use his war chest to help Republicans gain control of Congress, two sources familiar with the matter said.

Trump's Save America leadership political action committee has become a fundraising juggernaut since its inception in November 2020, amassing some $112.5 million in cash but spending only around $17 million to help pay for rallies and promote Republicans, according to the latest federal filings.

Save America's limited spending has raised questions among campaign finance experts and political observers, who say it might signal that he is reserving cash for a presidential run in 2024.

Senior advisers are now putting together proposals to support candidates running for state and congressional office in November's general election, the two sources familiar with discussions between Trump and his aides told Reuters on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity around the issue.

Trump is expected to make a decision by mid-May.

The expected timing of the midterm spending plan and some of the details under consideration have not been previously reported.

The proposals include spending estimates and providing candidates with support staff to help with communications and strategy, the sources said. Neither of the sources had details on the amount of money under consideration.

Advisers are debating whether to target a small number of races where money and staff can help tip the scales to victory or spread the funds over more races, the sources told Reuters.

One thing is certain: Trump will make the final decisions and will surely spend money to defeat Republicans like Liz Cheney who voted to impeach him following the January 6, 2020 assault by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol, the sources said.

The sources acknowledged that Trump is under pressure to put more money and resources behind candidates he has endorsed amid reports of Republican frustration with the lack of action.

They noted that Trump has allowed candidates to host fundraisers at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and that his endorsement boosts local fundraising and candidates' profiles.

Finalizing Plan

Trump is expected to finalize a spending plan following key Republican nominating contests in early and mid-May for Senate candidates in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where he has made the risky move of backing candidates who are not clear favorites to win the nominations.

"I think they're under increasing pressure to spend the money. If Trump wants to get credit for taking the House and Senate back, he's going to have to put his resources to use. And if he doesn't, he will be blamed for us not taking more seats," said Dan Eberhart, a Republican donor.

Republicans are widely seen as the favorites to win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate too amid deep dissatisfaction among Americans over Biden's handling of rising inflation.

Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich said he does not comment on campaign spending and strategy.

Trump's Save America group has become one of the top Republican fundraising organizations ahead of the Nov. 8 elections, but so far it has been stingy with its spending compared to other groups, according to a Reuters analysis of financial disclosures made to the Federal Election Commission.

Trump has so far endorsed more than 100 candidates in congressional and state races. Some of the endorsements have been driven by Trump's desire to exact revenge on incumbent Republicans who crossed him.

One of the earliest tests of that strategy will be in Georgia, where Trump has backed former U.S. Senator David Perdue in the May 24 Republican gubernatorial primary. Perdue, who is lagging in the polls, will face Governor Brian Kemp, who infuriated Trump by certifying the 2020 election results that showed President Joe Biden defeated him in the state.

Save America disbursed $500,000 to a PAC supporting Perdue in March, its first major spending on a 2022 candidate, the most recent filings showed.

(Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw and Alexandra Ulmer, editing by Ross Colvin and Cynthia Osterman)

Trump Pretends To Be Running US Foreign Policy From Mar-a-Lago

Former President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested he's running a shadow government out of his Mar-a-Lago golf club in Florida, saying he sent an "Envoy Ambassador" to the Kosovo-Serbia border to help the two nations work toward "peace."

"The great people of Serbia and Kosovo have overcome tremendous obstacles in their pursuit of economic normalization," says a statement released by Trump's Save America PAC in which he describes himself as the "45th President of the United States."

Trump says, "The agreements my administration brokered are historic and should not be abandoned, many lives are at stake. The region is too important and the people have waited too long for this work to be cast aside. Today, my Envoy Ambassador Ric Grenell visited the Kosovo-Serbia border to highlight this important agreement."

Trump's statement raises eyebrows, not least because in 2019 he accused former Secretary of State John Kerry of violating the Logan Act for talking to Iran when Trump was president and called for Kerry to be prosecuted over it.

The Logan Act, enacted in 1799, prohibits unauthorized American citizens from conducting foreign policy. The law states:

Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

"What I'd like to see with Iran, I'd like to see them call me. John Kerry speaks to them a lot, and John Kerry tells them not to call. That's a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly he should be prosecuted on that," Trump said at the time, adding, "Only the Democrats do that kind of stuff."

The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo visited the White House in September 2020 to highlight the "Washington Agreement," two separate documents each signed by one of the countries that Trump called "a major breakthrough." The "agreement" was aimed at normalizing relations between Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, and Serbia, which has so far refused to recognize it as a sovereign state. The agreement has not put an end to ongoing issues between the two, including continuing violence at their shared border.

Now Trump is apparently sending Grenell — a Trump defender who came under fire during his three months as acting director of national intelligence during the Trump administration for politicizing American intelligence — to conduct foreign policy on his behalf.

What's more, Grenell himself also attacked Kerry during an appearance on Fox News in April, accusing him of "constantly undermining what the Trump policy was" on Iran.

It's unclear whether Trump is actually violating the Logan Act. When he accused Kerry of doing so, experts said he was misinterpreting the law and using it for partisan purposes.

"Folks will be upset at this as Trump violating norms, undercutting U.S. foreign policy, and hypocritically doing what his administration castigated others for doing when he was POTUS," Daniel Drezner, an international politics professor at the Fletcher School at Tufts University, tweeted. "I will instead be laughing at 'envoy ambassador' and the permanent beclowning of Ric Grenell."

In a statement to reporters, the White House dismissed Trump's claim that he had an "Envoy Ambassador" traveling to the Kosovo-Serbia border.

"Outside of his very active imagination, Donald Trump is no longer President and doesn't have any 'envoy ambassadors' representing the United States," an unnamed White House official said, according to Bloomberg News' Jennifer Epstein.

Updated to include a statement from the White House.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

In Georgia, Trump Says Stacey Abrams 'Would Be Better' Than Gov. Kemp

PERRY, Georgia. — Thousands packed the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry as former President Donald Trump held a rally for a slate of pro-Trump candidates running for office in Georgia in 2022. Trump has remained fixated on Georgia and Gov. Brian Kemp since Kemp refused to intervene in the state's election results, which President Joe Biden won by about 11,000 votes. The rally was as much anti-Kemp as it was pro-Trump. At one point, Trump said Stacey Abrams would be a better governor than Kemp. With the exception of Herschel Walker, the GOP speakers took the stage one-by-one, with the same them...

FBI Uncovers Evidence Of National Coordination In Attack On Capitol

As the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) continues its probe into the U.S. Capitol riots, more evidence suggests the assault on the federal building was a coordinated plot.

According to The Washington Post, FBI agents across the United States working to navigate through the disturbing events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol are being tasked with determining the true intent of those who traveled to Washington, D.C.

While the "Save America" rally and siege on the Capitol have been widely referred to as protests and riots, the bureau is now making it very clear how the Jan. 6 chaos is, in fact, distinctly different from other acts of civil unrest.

While a typical political rally is defined as a First Amendment rights-protected gathering of "like-minded people," investigators argue that it differs greatly from "organizing an armed assault on the seat of American government." In determining which rallygoers fall into one of the two specific categories, investigators have uncovered evidence that points to more coordinated plans of assault on the U.S. Capitol.

With many believing that President Joe Biden would be a peril for the United States, Trump supporters made detailed plans weeks in advance to prepare for their siege on the Capitol. One example is the investigation into Jessica Marie Watkins, the Ohio woman who formed her own far-right militia for the insurrection.

According to prosecutors' court documents, Watkins began planning shortly after the presidential election suggesting the possibility of America being over with Biden being in office.

"If he is, our way of life as we know it is over. Our Republic would be over. Then it is our duty as Americans to fight, kill and die for our rights. . . . If Biden gets the steal, none of us have a chance in my mind. We already have our neck in the noose. They just haven't kicked the chair yet."

The publication also reports that law enforcement officials have also speculated about the reason for the pipe bombs which "may have been a deliberate distraction meant to siphon law-enforcement away from the Capitol building at the crucial moment."

Another example focuses on the Proud Boys and leaders of other right-wing organizations. Based on footage from the insurrection, along with court filings, investigators have managed to uncover how many different factions were organized as opposed to simply convening outside of the Capitol.

Video and court filings, for instance, describe how several groups of men that include alleged members of the Proud Boys appear to engage in concerted action, converging on the West Front of the Capitol just before 1 p.m., near the Peace Monument at First Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Different factions of the crowd appear to coalesce, move forward and chant under the direction of different leaders before charging at startled police staffing a pedestrian gate, all in the matter of a few minutes.

As of Saturday, Jan. 30, the Department of Justice has arrested and charged more than 170 individuals in connection with the Capitol riots.

Urging Voters To Aid Georgia GOP Senators, Trump Keeps Their Donations Himself

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In Georgia, one of five states that President-elect Joe Biden flipped in the 2020 presidential election, President Donald Trump has been campaigning for two incumbent GOP senators who are facing runoffs in January: Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue. But according to Politico reporter Alex Isenstadt, there is "just one hitch" — which is that "Trump's new political machine is pocketing most of the dough, and the campaigns of the Georgia senators competing in the January 5 races aren't getting a cent."

In his requests for donations, Isenstadt notes, Trump is saying things like "We MUST defend Georgia from the Dems!" and "Help us WIN both Senate races in Georgia & STOP Socialist Dems." But the outgoing president isn't directly sharing that money with Loeffler or Perdue.

Isenstadt explains, "Trump's aggressive fundraising blitz appears to be devoted to helping the party defend Georgia's two Senate seats and, with them, the Senate majority. But the fine print shows that most of the proceeds are going toward Trump's newly launched PAC, which he plans to use to fund his future political activities. Only a fraction is going to the Republican National Committee, which is investing $20 million into the runoffs. A stampede of political figures from both parties are e-mailing their donors with links to donate directly to the Georgia candidates, but the president is not among them."

Senior Republicans, according to Isenstadt, are "rankled" by "Trump's fundraising ploy" and "worry" that "small-dollar donations are being redirected away from the runoffs." Veteran GOP strategist Doug Heye told Politico, "The reality is Donald Trump does not care about the future of the Republican Party. So, if he can raise money off of the Georgia runoffs but keep the money for his own purposes, he will do so."

Isenstadt explains, "When donors click on Trump's e-mails and texts, they are directed to a site that urges donations of anything from $5 to $2800. Lower down on the page, it notes that 75 percent of each donation goes to Trump's political action committee, Save America, up to the first $5000 given…. Regardless of the amount given, none goes directly to the Georgia Senate candidates. Georgia Republicans want more of Trump's small-dollar fundraising to benefit David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler."

Isenstadt also points out that "Trump's approach" has been "in stark contrast with" Biden, whose "campaign last week sent out an e-mail asking supporters to give $25 contributions, which would be split evenly between Georgia Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock and the Democratic National Committee."

Biden will be campaigning for Ossoff and Warnock at an event in Atlanta, and his efforts on behalf of the Democratic Senate candidates are the focus of a separate Politico article by Marc Caputo and James Arkin. In their piece, Caputo and Arkin stress that Biden has a major stake in the outcome of the two Senate races.

"The success of the president-elect's agenda hinges on the two Senate runoff races that will decide the balance of power in the chamber," Caputo and Arkin explain. "If Ossoff and Warnock fail to defeat Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on January 5, it will mean a GOP-controlled Senate that's guaranteed to stand in the way of implementing Biden's policy goals.

Democrat Doug Sosnik, who served as White House political director under President Bill Clinton, told Politico, "I don't think there's a choice here. If he does go (to Georgia) and Democrats don't win, he won't be blamed. But if he doesn't go, then you guys would write about why he's not going. It's a good problem to have because obviously, the campaigns (of Ossoff and Warnock) want him there. It would be worse if they didn't."

Although Georgia was a deep red state for many years, it has evolved into a swing state — and Biden's narrow victory over Trump in the Peach State required a strong turnout in Atlanta (which is heavily Democratic and largely African-American) and its suburbs. Democrat Michael L. Thurmond, chief executive officer of DeKalb County near Atlanta, is glad to see Biden visiting his area.

Thurmond, who formerly served in the Georgia Assembly, told Politico, "Obviously, the president-elect coming will resonate with those moderate-to-conservative voters, and him being in Georgia is absolutely critical in order for us to have any success on January 5. It's his coalition. This is his coalition, and his presence and his endorsement will reassure those independent voters who are maybe concerned or on the fence."

’Save America PAC’ Is A Scam That Will Pay Trump Millions

Donald Trump's operation has raised $207.5 million since his election defeat for a fund with money that could directly benefit himself.

Between Nov. 3 and Dec. 3, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee received the more than $200 million largely from bombarding donors with unfounded claims of election fraud, blasting them with misleading messages to "save America" from a stolen election by funding last-minute recount bids.

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Michael Cohen Says Trump Is Firing Up Supporters To ‘Send Him Money’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, has had a lot to say about the president's response to the 2020 election results — stressing, during an interview with New York magazine's Jeff Wise, that Trump's bogus claims of widespread voter fraud are a cynical way for him to get supporters to donate money to him. And Cohen offered more insights on Trump's post-election histrionics when he was interviewed for journalist Brian Karem's "Just Ask the Question" podcast.

According to Cohen, Trump has "done the math" and realizes that there is still a lot of money to be made by firing up his MAGA supporters.

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