According to a report from the Guardian, financial information released by political action committees (PACs) linked to Donald Trump are being scrutinized by critics and legal experts alike who see evidence that the former president may be engaged in fraud as he amasses millions of dollars.
As the Guardian's Peter Stone writes, Trump has "has built an arsenal of political committees and nonprofit groups, staffed with dozens of ex-administration officials and loyalists" who are now using his election loss to rake in millions for the purported reason of contesting his loss in the courts, yet there are few dollars being spent on lawyers and a lot of questions about what the money is being used for.
Focusing on Trump's "Save America" PAC, the report states, it "had raised a whopping $31.5m by year's end, but Save America spent nothing on legal expenses in this same period, according to public records. Run by Trump's 2016 campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Save America only spent $340,000 on fundraising expenses last year."
Additionally, Trump is now touting a lawsuit --and asking for donations to finance it -- against Facebook, Google and Twitter which experts claim looks like another fundraising "ploy" which is leading to even more questions.
According to Paul S. Ryan, vice-president of policy and litigation with Common Cause, "Donald Trump is a one-man scam Pac. Bait-and-switch is among his favorite fundraising tactics. This time he's got the unlimited dark money group America First Policy Institute in on the racket."
Adav Noti, a former associate general counsel at the Federal Election Commission, concurred, explaining, "The president deceived his donors. He asked them to give money so he could contest the election results, but then he spent their contributions to pay off unrelated debts," before adding, "That's dangerously close to fraud. If a regular charity – or an individual who didn't happen to be president of the United States – had raised tens of millions of dollars through that sort of deception, they would face a serious risk of prosecution."
With the Guardian's Stone writing, "Veteran campaign finance analysts say that the bevy of Trump-linked groups launched since his defeat raise new questions about his motives and political intentions," Sheila Krumholz, who leads the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics added, "Trump's aggressive fundraising, using a variety of committees and surrogates, raises questions about whether his continual hints at running in 2024 is primarily a ploy for donations. Trump may be more interested in fundraising than actually running, especially given how unprecedented his post-loss fundraising is."
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A highly leveraged attorney whose reputation is in tatters has become the go-to defense for Jan. 6 rioters.
John Pierce, whose boutique law firm is facing mountains of debt, has represented Kenosha, Wisconsin, murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse, former Donald Trump campaign aide Carter Page and now more than a dozen U.S. Capitol rioters -- and he plans to use an unusual tactic to defend the insurrectionists, reported The Daily Beast.
"We are going to take every one of these cases to trial, we are going to seek full acquittals, and in that process we are going to find out what actually happened on Jan. 6," Pierce said at a rally in June.
Pierce said in one court hearing that he would pursue a "public authority defense," a tactic sometimes used by informants, to argue that his 17 clients believed the government -- in this case, the former president -- had legally sanctioned their crimes, but some legal observers believe that strategy is destined to fail.
"He's not a defense attorney, and therefore he's not an especially good defense attorney and it would take a tremendously good defense attorney to make a good public authority defense," explained national security journalist Marcy Wheeler. "That's why nobody else is trying it."
Pierce, who was fired by Rittenhouse over a financial dispute, is representing Proud Boy William Pepe, conservative media scion L. Brent Bozell IV, and alleged Proud Boy conspirator Ryan Samsel, although the latter notified the judge last week that he would be getting a new lawyer.
Before getting involved in MAGA cases, Pierce's law firm dissolved under more than $800,000 in tax debt and his own admitted substance abuse issues, and he reportedly sent his ex-wife menacing messages and threatened to kill her.
In the latest setback for pro-Trump social media network Gettr, jihadi extremists have flooded its "MAGA free speech zone" with terrorist propaganda — turning it into "a safe haven for ISIS," Politico reports.
"The social network — started a month ago by members of former President Donald Trump's inner circle — features reams of jihadi-related material, including graphic videos of beheadings, viral memes that promote violence against the West and even memes of a militant executing Trump in an orange jumpsuit similar to those used in Guantanamo Bay," according to the report.
Soon after being launched by former Trump spokesperson Jason Miller in late June, Gettr encountered a series of challenges, from hackers scraping troves of users' private data to leftists trolling the platform with Sonic the Hedgehog porn.
Now, Politico reports that at least 250 accounts associated with jihadi extremists have posted regularly on Gettr, underscoring the challenges faced by Trump's supporters as they seek a "safe space" online following the former president's expulsion from mainstream platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
Trump has hinted at launching his own platform, but the effort has stalled, and Gettr arguably represents the highest-profile attempt create a platform where MAGA fans can fully express themselves without the censorship of tech giants, according to Politico. But Islamic extremists, also banned by mainstream platforms, are constantly looking for new places to spread terrorist propaganda.
"Days after GETTR was launched on July 1, Islamic State supporters began urging their followers on other social networks to sign up to the pro-Trump network, in part to take the jihadi fight directly to MAGA nation," Politico reports.
Although some of the posts have been taken down, most remain up, despite Politico's efforts to contact Gettr representatives for comment about the terrorist propaganda. Part of the problem is that Gettr hasn't signed up for the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, which shares a database of extremist material with members so it can be quickly removed.
In addition to terrorist propaganda, Gettr features plenty of white-supremacist content, as well as regular posts from more mainstream figures like Sean Hannity and Mike Pompeo. "So far, Islamic State supporters are enjoying their incursion into GETTR and the possible new audience they could reach," Politico reports.
"We will come at you with slaying and explosions you worshippers of the cross," wrote one account associated with ISIS. "[H]ow great is freedom of expression."
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