Earlier this week, Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, who represents the Independence Party in the Icelandic Parliament, was taken aback by a letter from Donald Trump, Jr. asking for a donation to help his father defeat “crooked Hillary.” Þór Þórðarson wasn’t the only one puzzled. Parliamentarians all over the planet, in the United Kingdom and Australia as well as Iceland, have been importuned for funds to help Make America Great Again.
These emails are genuinely bewildering. For one thing, they seem in violation of campaign finance laws against collecting money from non-Americans. But beyond legality, they raise some disturbing questions about Trump’s campaign. It’s known that Trump is having trouble fundraising and is reluctant to spend much more of his purported billions on the campaign. But is he really in so much trouble that he needs to turn to Icelandic nationalists?
The other possibility is that this is just a screw-up. It’s easy to imagine that the Trump campaign bought or acquired an email list of possible donors and didn’t make any effort to scrub out the names of foreign donors. Given the fact that Trump’s leading campaign adviser Paul Manafort has been involved in political campaigns around the globe, this scenario makes some sense.
But with four and a half months to go until Election Day, both theories are troubling. Whether operating out of desperation or incompetence, the Trump campaign is in deep trouble.