Less than two hours after his indictment became public, former President Donald Trump’s fundraising machine sent out an email to supporters on his behalf loaded with extremist rhetoric and antisemitic tropes.
“The Deep State will use anything at their disposal to shut down the one political movement that puts YOU first,” Trump wrote in the email, a reference to a conspiracy theory about a network of people working inside the federal government to exercise power over ordinary people.
Trump also attacked Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg, whose office was responsible for bringing the case to the grand jury, as being funded by George Soros, a major donor to Democratic causes and a popular target of anti-Semitism on the far-right, including in his birth country of Hungary.
In the hours that followed, Trump sent out at least three other fundraising emails about the indictment, according to a review of an archive at politicalemails.org. All used the same tone, selected all-caps words, and rhetoric as fundraising emails he sent in the roughly two weeks since he told supporters he expected to be arrested.
“They’re loaded with antisemitic language, some of which has been used in the past to validate violence against Jews,” said Kurt Braddock, a public communication professor at American University. “There’s no other way to describe it — he’s using anti-Jewish stereotypes and historical hatred to raise money.”
Braddock pointed to language pinning Bragg’s activity on Soros and presenting Soros as “a shadowy financier” that “feeds into anti-Semitic tropes related to Jews and money,” and references to Soros as part of a “globalist cabal.” The QAnon conspiracy theory is based around the idea of a shadowy cabal going after Trump.
The fundraising emails in question all asked for money to go to an account that splits money between Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and a fund called Save America, which has raised more than $100 million and paid many of the same top-tier lawyers who represent him. Several of those lawyers have sent out statements defending him.
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“A former president, a current candidate and my friend President Donald J. Trump is a victim of a corrupt and distorted version of the American justice system and history,” wrote Alina Habba, whose firm Habba Madaio & Asociates received just under $2 million from Save America in 2022. “He will be vindicated.”
A spokesman for Trump did not return a request for comment.
On Friday night, Trump’s campaign sent out a statement saying the campaign raised $4 million in the 24 hours since news of his indictment became public. The statement said 25% of those donations came from first-time donors and again called Bragg a “Soros-funded prosecutor.”
A USA TODAY review of Bragg’s campaign finance disclosures with the New York State Board of Elections did not reveal Soros has personally donated to Bragg’s campaign. Soros did donate $1 million to a political action committee called Colorofchange in May 2021, according to Open Secrets.
That donation came about a week after the PAC pledged to spend “over one million dollars” to reach out directly to voters in support of Bragg, and in the middle of a hotly contested Democratic primary for the open Manhattan District Attorney seat. One of Bragg’s opponents donated more than $8 million to her own campaign, according to New York Magazine.
Michael Vachon, a spokesman for Soros, said that Soros has never “met, spoken with, or otherwise communicated with” Bragg, and has supported “reform-minded prosecutors” across the country since 2015. Vachon said that Soros personally and his affiliated Democracy PAC have donated $4 million to Colorofchange between 2016 and 2022, including the May 2021 donation, but “none of those funds were earmarked for Bragg’s campaign.”
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Fundraising off controversy is nothing new for Trump: Six months ago, he revved up his pitches after the FBI searched his home in Mar-a-Lago. He’s also been openly embracing QAnon, the same movement that drove many followers to the Capitol on Jan. 6, at his rallies.
Time will tell how successful he is. Trump’s presidential campaign raised just $3.8 million through the end of 2022. Public information on his latest fundraising is due to the Federal Election Commission on April 15. His affiliated PACs are due to file similar information July 31.