Former President Donald Trump on Monday attacked a New York Times story that reported his campaing was forced to pay back $122 million to donors who got roped into making recurring donations during critical weeks of his 2020 campaign.
Trump’ fired off the statement, which went out under the name of his PAC, from his new office at Mar-a-Lago, where he is still defining his post-presidential role as a constant critic of Joe Biden and the media.
The details of that office were revealed for the first time Monday in an image released by former White House advisor Stephen Miller, who helped pen some of Trump’s most hard-line immigration speeches.
Former White House aide Stephen Miller tweeted out a picture of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office
It shows Trump grinning and leaning over the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal and sitting behind a large wooden desk that is somewhat smaller than the Resolute Desk he occupied in the Oval Office.
Also pictured is a picture of Mt. Rushmore, a landmark Trump has joked about joining, and where his visit prompted fears of a super-spreader event.
Also seen on the desk was a bottle of Diet Coke – a beverage that Trump in his last gig at the White House was able to summon with the push of a button.
Trump, however, called on his supporters to boycott Coca-Cola and other ‘woke’ companies after they criticized Georgia for its new election law.
Also seen on the desk are a pair of reading glasses and a smart phone, in a room that has some of the memorabilia Trump displayed in the Oval Office. One new piece that wasn’t there is a small statue of Trump himself.
A glass bottle is seen to Trump’s left on his desk, obscured by a landline phone
It also features a picture of Mt. Rushmore, a monument Trump visited last year, and a statue of Trump himself
Location, location: Trump at his old desk, the historic Resolute Desk that belongs to the government, in the Oval Office
Trump in August tweeted that it would be a ‘good idea’ to have his face on Mt. Rushmore, after a report that aides had contacted South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump loyalist, about having his face added to the monument.
‘Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!’ he wrote.
In his latest statement on the campaign refunds story, Trump repeated his claim there was ‘massive voter fraud’ and that he won the election – while trumpeting enthusiastic supporters whom he said ‘gave over and over’ to support his effort.
The former president acknowledged that some of his donors ended up on the hook for more than they realized, but said in those cases ‘we would promptly refund their contributions.’
He did not address elements of the story that calculated his campaign’s return rates were many multiples higher of what Joe Biden’s campaign gave back or than political norms, nor did he directly address parts of the story that said his campaign website was modified during the campaign to obscure boxes that required people to affirmatively check a box to avoid recurring donations.
Donald Trump attracted a groundswell of donors during his 2020 election campaign, but many unwittingly signed up to make recurring payments. Trump blasted the report Monday and repeated his claim that the election was ‘stolen’
‘Our support in 2020 was so big—never before seen (received more votes than any sitting President in history, by far), that it has become a major threat to the Democrat Party, which explains why the New York Times immediately rushed to defend their Radical Left allies,’ Trump said in a statement from his ‘Save America’ PAC.
‘Before our two campaigns, 2016 and 2020, Republicans would always lose small dollar donations. Now we win, or do very well, because we are the Party of Working Americans, and we beat the Democrats at their own game. We learned from liberal ActBlue—and now we’re better than they are!’ he wrote.
‘In fact, many people were so enthusiastic that they gave over and over, and in certain cases where they would give too much, we would promptly refund their contributions,’ Trump said. ‘Our overall dispute rate was less than 1% of total online donations, a very low number. This is done by Dems also,’ he said.
Donald Trump’s response to New York Times story on campaign refunds
‘In yet another highly partisan story, the failing New York Times wrote a completely misleading, one-sided attack piece this weekend that tried to disparage our record-setting grassroots fundraising operation during the 2020 campaign. Except for massive voter fraud, this was a campaign that was easily won by your favorite Republican President, me!
Our support in 2020 was so big—never before seen (received more votes than any sitting President in history, by far), that it has become a major threat to the Democrat Party, which explains why the New York Times immediately rushed to defend their Radical Left allies. Before our two campaigns, 2016 and 2020, Republicans would always lose small dollar donations. Now we win, or do very well, because we are the Party of Working Americans, and we beat the Democrats at their own game. We learned from liberal ActBlue—and now we’re better than they are! In fact, many people were so enthusiastic that they gave over and over, and in certain cases where they would give too much, we would promptly refund their contributions. Our overall dispute rate was less than 1% of total online donations, a very low number. This is done by Dems also.
The New York Times knew this but buried these details in their story—they didn’t talk about, however, how the CHEATING Democrats circumvented State Legislatures (approval is required by the U.S. Constitution) in Swing States to rig the 2020 Presidential Election, or how Democrats paid for votes in many Urban Centers, in a little thing called “walking around money,” how Democrats threatened Union Members with the loss of their jobs if they didn’t vote Democrat, massive Fake Mail-In Ballots, illegal immigrants and dead people who voted (for Dems), and much more. Our fundraising efforts, working together with the Republican party, were all done legally, and all with the goal of ensuring that my Administration could continue to Make America Great Again. The Election on the other hand, was massively rigged and stolen—and now look what is happening to our Country, and in particular at our southern border.
If you are one of the record-setting 75 million Americans who voted for me, donated or volunteered, THANK YOU! The best is yet to come!’
The Times reported that in the final two and a half months of the campaign, Trump and the Republican National Committee made 530,000 refunds worth $64 million, while Biden’s campaign and party committees made 37,000 refunds totaling $5.6 million – or more than 11 times the return rate.
Trump then raised a series of allegations against Democrats and accused the times of having ‘buried the details’ in its story.
He accused Democrats of ‘CHEATING’ in order to ‘rig the 2020 Presidential Election,’ and claimed without offering evidence that they ‘paid for votes in many Urban Centers, in a little thing called “walking around money.’
He then railed against ‘Fake Mail-In Ballots, illegal immigrants and dead people who voted (for Dems), some of the same charges he raised during his election overturn effort that was rejected by a series of federal courts.
‘Our fundraising efforts, working together with the Republican party, were all done legally, and all with the goal of ensuring that my Administration could continue to Make America Great Again. The Election on the other hand, was massively rigged and stolen—and now look what is happening to our Country, and in particular at our southern border,’ he said.
Trump has been forced to pay back $122 million to donors who were tricked into making recurring payments to his 2020 reelection campaign.
A New York Times investigation found Trump’s fundraising campaign employed deceptive fundraising tactics that saw thousands of his supporters unwittingly sign up to give repeat contributions, when they had only intended to make a one-off payment.
The ‘scam’, which involves pre-ticked boxes on fundraising emails often buried under lines of fine print, sparked thousands of complaints to banks and credit card companies.
Among the victims were elderly and military veterans, as well as some experienced political operatives, and many have been left with overdraft fees and busted credit card limits.
Complaints from donors prompted the Trump campaign to eventually reimburse $122 million in contributions.
One victim, Stacy Blatt, was battling cancer and living in a hospice in Kansas City when he donated $500 last September, the New York Times reported.
Blatt was charged another $500 the next day, and then $500 each week until October, and it was only after his rent and utility bills bounced that his family discovered what had happened.
‘It felt like it was a scam,’ his brother Russell, who helped Stacy get to the bottom of what had happened, told the Times.
Blatt died in February.
Thousands of people among Trump’s devoted fan base ended up out of pocket, and fighting banks or credit card companies for refunds
Pre-checked boxes, like the ones above, began appearing in Trump campaign emails in March 2020. In June, the emails included a second pre-checked box – known as a ‘money bomb’ – which duped thousands of donors into making recurring payments. When the campaign learned it had been out-fundraised by Biden’s team by $150 million in a single month, it began adding lines of bolded, capitalized text
Stacy Blatt, 63, was battling cancer in a hospice in Kansas City when he donated $500 to Trump’s campaign in September. He would end up being charged $3000
The Trump campaigns dubious pre-checked emails first appeared in March 2020.
A bright yellow box began appearing in emails with the words: ‘Make this a monthly recurring donation.’
Anyone making a donation would have to opt-out to avoid being charged repeatedly.
Three months later in June, a second pre-checked box was added to Trump campaign fundraising emails.
Known as a ‘money bomb’, the second box had a much greater degree of success in ensnaring unsuspecting donors to sign up, as most thought unticking one box would avoid any additional charges.
Then in September, after learning he had been out-raised by his opponent, the Democratic nominee Joseph Biden, by $150 million in one month, the Trump campaign became more aggressive, The Times reported.
The recurring donation would now be taken out every week, instead of monthly.
And the campaign later added large blocks of bold, capitalized text to the boxes to make them harder to decipher.
Soon after Election Day, banks and credit card companies became inundated with complaints.
‘It started to go absolutely wild,’ a Wells Fargo fraud investigator told the New York Times.
In all, Trump has had to pay back $122 million in donations made to five organizations: Donald J. Trump for President, Trump Victory, Trump Make America Great Again Committee, Save America, and the Republican National Committee.
Another reason Trump had to refund such large amounts of money was because many of his individual donors exceeded the legally-allowed cap of $2,800.
A Trump spokesman said that less than 1 percent of donations to his campaign were subject to complaints
One Trump supporter said the recurring payments ‘felt like it was a scam’
This dwarfed the $21m refunded to donors by the Biden campaign.
All of the donations were made via the Republican-linked for-profit donation-processing company WinRed, which charges 30 cents of every donation, plus 3.8 percent of the amount given.
Ira Rheingold, the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, told the New York Times the scheme was ‘unfair’, ‘unethical’ and ‘inappropriate.’
A Trump spokesman, Jason Miller, pointed to internal campaign records which showed less than 1 percent of total donations to WinRed had been subjected to complaints.
‘Our campaign was built by the hardworking men and women of America and cherishing their investments was paramount to anything else we did,’ Miller told The Times.