Thousands of former President Donald Trump’s supporters recently learned the hard way what Trump’s business partners and creditors have long known: He is a con artist. The latest example, revealed over the weekend by The New York Times, is that Trump’s campaign last year tricked thousands of donors into unknowingly making repeated donations. Fine-print wording required donors to uncheck a box to opt out of being automatically charged for additional donations that racked up multiple times what they intended to donate. Some were even threatened with being outed to Trump as a “defector” if they unchecked the box.
In one case, a Kansas City man discovered only after his rent and utility checks bounced that his bank account had been depleted and frozen due to the Trump campaign’s automatic, repeated withdrawals. In the end, the campaign and the Republican National Committee had to reimburse more than 530,000 online donations totaling more than $64 million — but only after Trump used that money for what amounted to an interest-free loan through the November election.
Trump has a long record of using bankruptcy to skirt his business obligations and refusing to pay contractors what he owes. He has misused charitable funds donated to his foundation (leading to a $2 million fine) and ripped off students at his defunct Trump University (ending in his payment of a $25 million settlement). The list goes on. By the time Trump ran for reelection last year, his status as a flim-flam man was beyond any real debate.
So it should have come as no surprise that Trump’s campaign would scam its most fervent supporters: regular Americans, willing to give Trump modest political donations. The Times documented how the campaign used misleading tactics in its online fundraising to trick one-time donors into repeating those donations monthly or even weekly — repeatedly reaching right into their bank accounts — if the donors failed to heed fine print designed to be overlooked.
Only after the election did most of them get their money back. And by that point, Trump was actively scooping up money from another set of loyal marks: those willing to donate to his phony post-election effort to prove mass voter fraud. At least, that’s what they thought they were donating to. Once again, there was fine print in the fundraising appeals, this time explaining that most of the money wouldn’t be going to the fake election-fraud battle, but into Trump’s other campaign organs. After all, someone has to make up the funds Trump was forced to send back to the election donors he ripped off.
There’s a sucker born every minute, goes the old saying, and these days, it’s easy to spot some of them: They’re the people still giving money, political support and/or one iota of trust to the most fundamentally dishonest president in America’s history.