Donations to Trump's Baseless Election Challenge Also Go Toward Paying Off His Campaign Debt
“60% to DJTP for deposit in DJTP’s 2020 General Election Account for the retirement of general election debt,” the fine print in one case reads
While President Donald Trump continues to baselessly claim the election results showing he lost to Joe Biden are fraudulent, his campaign has pivoted to raising money for an "election defense fund" and other efforts to challenge the votes in Nevada, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.
But there’s a catch: In some cases, 50 to 60 percent of the money donated to these efforts has gone toward paying off Trump’s campaign debt.
The disclaimer was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which noted last week that Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee have been sending texts since Wednesday asking supporters to contribute to Trump’s legal efforts.
“We must PROTECT the Election!” read one campaign text, signed by Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., according to the Journal. “My father’s calling on YOU to help bolster our critical Election Defense Fund.”
The text linked to a donation page where a disclaimer read that 50 percent of the donation would go toward paying off the president’s campaign debt, while the other 50 percent would go toward the campaign’s recount efforts.
Getty Images President Donald Trump
Another fundraising campaign being pushed by the Trump 2020 team leads supporters to a webpage for the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — a joint committee by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., and the Republican National Committee.
“60% to DJTP for deposit in DJTP’s 2020 General Election Account for the retirement of general election debt,” that fine print reads.
The Trump campaign did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Also on Tuesday, The New York Times reported that as of that day the 60 percent of donations to the campaign for fighting the election were going toward a new political-action group, Save America, rather than to pay off campaign debt.
The Times described this group as a fund for the president's future endeavors.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/Getty Images President Donald Trump
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images President Donald Trump
The president's campaign told CNBC last month it had raised more than $950 million for Trump's re-election efforts, while the network noted the near-billion-dollar number does not include the RNC's own spending.
One former administration official tells PEOPLE the president's team is on track to exhaust his legal efforts before he would concede: "He feels he has to see it through for his supporters."
"I'll always think the president did not get the campaign he deserved," this source says. "They raised $1 billion and lost to Joe Biden."
President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign is also soliciting donations for the legal challenges. The Journal reports the fine print on Biden’s fundraisers indicate the first $142,000 contributed may go to the Democratic National Committee, though its disclaimers don’t mention the funds going toward retiring any campaign debt.
Both political committees play a significant role in funding court battles surrounding an election, the Journal reports.
The Trump campaign’s efforts were particularly scrutinized as the president refuses to acknowledge his defeat, with losses not just in Arizona or Nevada or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin but all of them.