Republicans have wasted no time in turning the looming impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump into a cash grab, with fundraising emails netting a million dollars for upcoming elections.
A flurry of emails went out late yesterday begging donors to sign up for an “Official Impeachment Defense Task Force” for “President Trump’s most LOYAL supporters.” In reality, the “task force” is just an email list of people who have donated money to elect Republican politicians. According to Mother Jones, the emails promised that donations would be “double matched,” which could violate finance laws.
“They want to take YOUR VOTE away,” one email reads. “As a member of the Official Impeachment Defense Task Force, you will be a leader in defending the President against these baseless and disgusting attacks. You will be responsible for defending American Greatness.”
Members of the task force won’t actually be leaders in anything of the sort; they’ll simply receive frequent pleas for money. The emails also promised that Trump would personally review the names of donors, which is unlikely. This maneuver might, however, provide a hint at what to expect as impeachment moves ahead, with Republicans ready to use the proceedings to line their pockets.
The money isn’t earmarked for any kind of legal defense. Instead it’ll be split between the campaign to reelect Trump, and also to buy voters in districts thought to be contested. Among those targeted is that of Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat elected in 2016 in a district that previously supported Trump.
A campaign targeting Slotkin raised around $350,000 alone, according to Politico. Some of the money will go toward buying back her seat, while the rest will be directed to Trump’s campaign.
A key tool in this latest fundraising arsenal is the newly launched fundraising site ActRed, which some Republicans hope will compete with ActBlue, a Democratic tech nonprofit. ActRed allows donors to split their donations between recipients. More ActRed campaigns are scheduled for the coming days, with the emphasis on overthrowing Democrats who won districts in 2016 that had previously voted for Trump.
But not all Republicans are on board with the scheme, with many skeptical that the new site will allow them to hoard more wealth than existing fundraising efforts. Only about half of GOP incumbents in the House are using the system right now, well short of Senators and state officials.
Republicans might also dive into fundraising to distract voters from the unfolding scandal surrounding Trump’s contact with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to a whistleblower within the administration, the president attempted to use American military resources to pressure Ukrainian leaders into investigating Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, to dig up information that would be damaging for Biden’s presidential campaign.
Although Trump asserts there was no “quid pro quo,” Nancy Pelosi stated in a Tuesday speech calling to begin an impeachment inquiry that it may not matter if the president attempted to induce a foreign power into interfering in the U.S. election, which he has not denied.
Trump already suggested he would try to capitalize on impeachment. "If [Pelosi] does that, they all say that's a positive for me in the election," he said yesterday. "You could also say who needs it. It's bad for the country."