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When former President Donald Trump rallies today in Waco, Texas, under a cloud of legal scandal, he'll do so after his campaign reportedly paid the central Texas city's government more than $60,000 to cover various municipal services, such as public safety costs.
But across the state, in El Paso, city officials there tell Raw Story that they're still waiting for Trump's campaign committee to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bills stemming from the former president's February 2019 visit to their border town.
"The Trump campaign has not submitted any payments for their debt," El Paso city spokesperson Laura Cruz-Acosta confirmed to Raw Story, noting that the current Trump tab is $569,204.63, including a city-issued late fee of $98,787.58.
El Paso is still trying to get Trump to pay up. In late 2020, the El Paso City Council unanimously took action to hire the Law Offices of Snapper L. Carr to "advocate in the City’s interest in the collection of the outstanding invoices," Cruz-Acosta said.
"The city continues to seek the payment of these past due expenses, so city taxpayers do not continue have to bear the cost," she added.
Most of El Paso's Trump-related charges stem from police and fire department expenses, according to a current City of El Paso invoice obtained by Raw Story.
Trump has been notoriously stingy when it comes to paying public safety-related bills city governments have sent his campaign committee to defray the often significant and unexpected costs of facilitating and securing a large-scale political event.
Insider in 2020 calculated that Trump's campaign had not paid nearly $2 million worth of public safety-related invoices sent to his campaign by more than a dozen municipal governments, including those of Minneapolis; Erie, Pa.; Tucson, Ariz.; Battle Creek, Mich.; Spokane, Wash.; Lebanon, Ohio; and Burlington, Vt.
The Daily Beast has since found other unpaid bills, although the Trump campaign appears to have paid at least one, from Sioux City, Iowa, after being pressured by local officials.
Waco officials did not immediately comment on the financial particulars of Trump's visit and asked Raw Story to make a written request for details, which have not yet been provided.
But the difference between why Trump is paying his Waco bills, as first reported by the Waco Tribune-Herald, and ignoring his El Paso bills appears tied to the mundane, but significant matter of jurisdiction and contractual obligations.
Trump conducted his 2019 rally at the El Paso County Coliseum, which is controlled by the nonprofit El Paso Sports Commission, not the City of El Paso. Nevertheless, City of El Paso officials provided police and other resources for the event, but had no power to compel the Trump campaign to pay beforehand.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the El Paso County Coliseum on February 11, 2019, in El Paso, Texas. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Similarly, other city governments that provide city services for Trump rallies at non-city facilities are left to invoice the campaign of the former president with the hope that he'll pay up after the fact.
Most of the cities have been left disappointed.
"It is the U.S. Secret Service, not the campaign, which coordinates with local law enforcement. The campaign itself does not contract with local governments for police involvement. All billing inquiries should go to the Secret Service,” the Trump campaign told the Center for Public Integrity in 2020.
The U.S. Secret Service, which indeed oversees security for the visit of a current or former president, does not, however, receive funding from Congress to reimburse municipal governments for services they render at the Secret Services' behest. Cities could theoretically refuse to provide public services for Trump rallies, but such a move would introduce other risks officials aren't willing to shoulder, from traffic snarls to public safety breakdowns in the event of a Trump rally-related emergency.
Since Trump is conducting his Waco rally at the Waco Regional Airport, which the city government manages, City of Waco officials had leverage in compelling Trump to sign a pre-rally contract and pay up before the event took place.
In other words: no pay, no play.
Several city governments, including the government of Nashville, Tenn., have taken similar approaches to Trump rallies when Trump's campaign wanted to use a city-managed facility for a political event.
Trump has long professed his love and admiration for law enforcement officials.
"Nobody appreciates you more than the president of the United States. Everybody knows what you do, and everybody cares. Without you, it just couldn't be the same. It would be really bad," Trump said in a video on Law Enforcement Appreciation Day 2020.
But when Trump rallies tonight in Waco — the event coincides with the 30th anniversary of the federal government’s siege of the compound of David Koresh’s Branch Davidians religious cult — he'll do so with local and federal law enforcement officials on his case from multiple angles.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is investigating whether Trump violated election laws and potentially falsified business documents to illegally cover up a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, with whom he allegedly had an affair. Trump himself says he expects to be indicted soon.
Trump also faces legal peril in Fulton County, Georgia, related to an investigation into whether he attempted to illegally overturn 2020 presidential election results.
A federal special counsel is also investigating Trump's role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and his handling of classified government documents in the months after he left the White House.
Trump indictment over Stormy Daniels will have 'little impact' on his evangelical Christian base: expert
If Donald Trump is indicted in connection with his $130,000 hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels don’t expect it to move the needle at all with white Christian conservatives who formerly concerned themselves with morality.
That’s the view of Robert P. Jones, CEO and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute and an expert on the religious right. Citing a long history of statistics showing that Trump’s numerous scandals either raised his support among white Evangelicals or didn’t cause it to drop, Jones predicted that even as lurid an example as this one won’t matter at all.
“As we anticipate the potential indictment of a former president, the data suggests that even such an unprecedented event would have little impact on the support for Trump by white evangelical Protestants and other conservative white Christians,” Jones wrote on his Substack #WhiteTooLong.
Jones cited numerous examples of “the unwavering support of Trump by these former “values voters” across Trump’s presidency, despite numerous well-known episodes of lewd, bigoted and unethical behavior.” He cited this as Exhibit A:
“On a hot mic, Trump brags about forcibly kissing and groping women, declaring, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything…. Grab them by the p—y, you can do anything.” Between September 2016, before the tape is released, and 2017, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical Protestants climbs 12 points, from 61% to 73%.”
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Trump’s favorability remained at that 73% level even in the wake of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and Trump’s statement that there were “very fine people on both sides,” Jones writes. The same held true after the Wall Street Journal broke the Stormy Daniels scandal in 2018 and after Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, he notes.
“By the fall of 2021, after losing the election, inciting an insurrection and becoming the first U.S. president in history to be impeached for a second time, his favorability finally drops among white evangelical Protestants — but only 7 percentage points to 67%. By the fall of 2022, Trump’s favorability among white evangelical Protestants dips modestly to 63%, but his popularity remains comparable to this same point in his 2016 campaign.”
Jones concludes, “As has been the case since Trump’s emergence as a national political figure in 2015, any excuse to deny the obvious will do. An indictment — particularly by a district attorney who is a Black Democrat from Manhattan whom Trump has already derided as a politically motivated “racist” — is likely to reconfirm their perception of a world upside-down and strengthen their allegiance to Trump.”
Jim Jordan committee aides whine Alvin Bragg staffers keep hanging up on them
Staffers working for House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) are complaining that they are being treated rudely when they contact Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office which is currently investigating Donald Trump.
According to a report from the New York Post, an aide working for the powerful Republican Party-controlled committee whined about their treatment which has included hang-ups and blunt talk to stop calling.
Speaking with the Post, one unnamed aide claimed they made a call to Bragg's office "at noon on Wednesday [and] was promptly hung up on after he identified himself to a woman who answered the phone."
When they called back a second time, another staffer working for the Manhattan DA reportedly told them, "Your committee has no jurisdiction over us. You’re wrong. Stop calling us with this bulls—t,” with the GOP staffer complaining to the Post, "I don’t think I’ve ever seen any government entity respond to Congress in that manner. It’s quite embarrassing, but I don’t think anyone is surprised based on how partisan that office has become.”
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Jordan's committee, as well as the House Oversight Committee, are trying to investigate Bragg's office at the request of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) since last Saturday when Trump announced that he would be arrested in Tuesday, which never came to pass.
As the Post notes, "In a five-page response, Bragg’s general counsel Leslie Dubeck called the GOP probe 'an unprecedented inquiry into a pending local prosecution' and refused to comply — but left the door open to continue discussions."
You can read more here.