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How Trump Used a Sleazy Old Trick to Scam His Voters on Legal Fees

For decades, right-wing fundraising gurus have raked in cash with all manner of grift. By channeling $50 million in donations to his legal defense, Trump may have topped them all.

Donald Trump
David Becker/Getty Images

This week, we learned that Donald Trump’s fundraising committees channeled an extraordinary $50 million toward bankrolling his myriad legal defenses throughout 2023. Such sordid trickery has a long history on the right: For decades, shrewd fundraising gurus have raked in cash from conservative voters with hallucinatory alarmism about leftist villains and other apocalyptic threats. We talked to Geoff Kabaservice, the author of Rule and Ruin, a history of the GOP, to situate Trump in this hallowed tradition of grifters. It turns out Trump may have outdone them all.