Former president Donald Trump departs the courtroom after testifying in...

Former president Donald Trump departs the courtroom after testifying in his civil fraud case in Manhattan in November 2023. Credit: The Washington Post/Jabin Botsford

On the fundraising front, the national Democratic Party seems to have an edge for November. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been pouring in to President Joe Biden’s campaign from donors large and small, including people tied to top businesses, corporations, unions, and other institutions and professions.

On Thursday, to keep the spigot open, the president is due to appear on stage at a glitzy reception at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan with predecessors Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. It’s a traditional top-dollar appeal for high-rolling contributors, symbolizing the kind of ostentatious rush of cash long suspect in the eyes of campaign finance reformers.

For Donald Trump, who is expected to be on Long Island Thursday for the wake of slain NYPD Officer Jonathan Diller, it’s fair to say campaign money is a more complex and intimate family affair.

Chalk it up to the ex-president’s current and unique status as a multiple defendant. In Manhattan alone, the Stormy Daniels hush-money trial begins April 15, while he’s expected to post a $175 million bond for appealing the $454 million civil fraud judgment against him, his business organization, and his adult sons Eric and Don Jr.

As a result, we see an unorthodox Trumpian twist on the traditional campaign money-grab: He has a joint fundraising deal with the Republican National Committee that diverts donations to his campaign and to a political action committee that has been paying Trump’s legal bills. The PAC, known as “Save America,” has disclosed that legal spending made up 85% of its operating expenses in the first two months of this year, or $8.5 million, according to published accounts.

Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, now co-chair of the RNC, said in February she thought Republican voters would be fine with having the party pay Trump’s legal fees. She may well be right — especially if those voters see her father-in-law as the victim he claims to be.

Donald Trump's latest exercise of control of the RNC and its resources involves hiring campaign staff. Prospective hires have been asked in job interviews whether they believe the 2020 election was stolen.

“We want experienced staff with meaningful views on how elections are won and lost and real experience-based opinions about what happens in the trenches,” RNC spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez told CNN.

Only a few years ago, Trump sold the line that he’s beholden to nobody because he was “self-funding” his campaign. It didn't happen.

Others have done it, not Trump. Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg actually used his fortune to be elected New York City mayor three times. 

Nowadays, Trump is scrambling once again for other people's cash. He has a Truth Social online platform that’s run by Trump Media & Technology Group Corp. That entity just merged with another — Digital World Acquisition Corp. Trump holds a nearly 60% stake in the firm; shares quickly rose with the deal. As you'd expect, many of the investors are said to be Trump political supporters.

The line between campaign and personal money is thus blurred inside the GOP.

In this murky vein, Trump now is offering copies of a “God Bless the USA Bible” for $59.99 each on Truth Social. “All Americans need a Bible in their home, and I have many. It’s my favorite book,” he claimed in a Truth Social posting. “We must make America pray again.”

Which prompts the question: If he wins and swears on one of these Bibles, will he take his oath seriously this time?

Columnist Dan Janison's opinions are his own.

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