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Trump Routing ‘Election Integrity’ Money to Retire Campaign Debt

by D.J. McGuire

About an hour after voting ended in Alaska on Wednesday morning, President Trump sauntered to a podium and made the laughable claim that he won the election. Within hours, the fundraising parts of his operation let the truth slip out via the fine print: the claim was just another chance to bleed the marks dry.

Julie Bykowicz has the details in The Wall Street Journal:

Starting early Wednesday, the campaign and the Republican National Committee have been sending dozens of daily text messages and emails saying they need financial support to challenge voting procedures.

“We must PROTECT the Election!” says one campaign text Friday signed by Mr. Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. “My father’s calling on YOU to help bolster our critical Election Defense Fund.”

Clicking through to the donation page, potential givers can review a disclaimer that 50% of any contribution will be used for general election campaign debt retirement and 50% for the campaign’s recount account.

Other Trump fundraising pitches in recent days ask for help to “protect the integrity of this election” but lead to a donation page for Mr. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” committee. The fine print on those solicitations says 60% of a contribution helps the campaign retire debt and 40% goes to the Republican National Committee.

Under normal circumstances, a losing campaign asking for help to pay off its debts isn’t a problem. However, “normal circumstances” and the year 2020 have not exactly been good neighbors.

In this case, the campaign is pretending it hasn’t lost – and indeed it is claiming it needs money to “protect” the election, when in fact at least half of the funds will be for anything but. Given the opaque nature of the Trump campaign’s finances (ABC News), one has to wonder whose pockets are getting lined by the campaign addressing its accounts payable. Pulling a bait-and-switch on small Republican donors does nothing to remove suspicion from that.

Moreover, of all the lawsuits Trump’s campaign is putting forward, only one has any serious chance of success – the case against Pennsylvania counting ballots mailed in after November 3. The problem for Trump is this: there aren’t nearly enough of those votes to make the difference. In fact, none of them were being counted when Biden took the lead on Trump in the Keystone state on Friday morning – nor when he was projected to win it. The roughly 5,000 ballots that did make it between the 4th and the 6th would barely make a dent in Biden’s current lead, which is over 45,000 as I write this.

However, the court case can give Trump a “victory” that he can use to advance his real agenda: the grift. Indeed, Trump’s entire career – from real estate to television to politics – has been about nothing else. He takes what he can no matter the lie; he avoids paying no matter the bill.

If I were one of Trump’s lawyers, I’d be really worried about my invoices right now.

As for the rest of us, we can prepare for the Biden Administration to begin in January. Trump’s presidency will come to an end, but the grift will go on, because that’s Trump’s top priority.

Nothing gets in the way of the grift. Nothing.

Trump’s Latest Unlikely Helper: Justin Trudeau

by D.J. McGuire

There are two governments in what is sometimes called “Anglo-America.” One of them is facing charges of corruptions, demands for resignation, and the real risk of defenestration by the voters in the upcoming election.

The other is the Trump Administration.

It’s been that kind of month in Canada, where former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould pointedly accused Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his staff of attempting to waylay a prosecution of a government contracting firm that, (1) donated $100,000 illegally to Trudeau’s Liberal Party, (2) is being tried for massive bribes to the Qaddafi regime in Libya, and (3) has insisted that any judicially imposed restrictions on its ability to win future contracts would cripple it.

The firm, SNC-Lavalin, has demanded a Deferred Prosecution Agreement ever since DPAs were enacted – as a paragraph buried in a multi-hundred page omnibus budget passed last year. The Director of Public Prosecutions said no; as AG and Justice Minister (the posts are combined in Canada), Wilson-Raybould ratified that decision. Trudeau and his minions tried to talk her out of it for months afterwards before demoting her to Veterans Minister. The current AG – who, like the PM, just happens to have his district in the same city as SNC-Lavalin’s headquarters – insists a DPA is now possible (Global News).

As I write this, the PM himself has just addressed the issue. Stunningly, he didn’t contradict Wilson-Raybould’s assertions that he personally intervened – he even acknowledged he mentioned his own political situation (although he laughably insisted it “wasn’t partisan in nature” – Maclean’s transcript). He even goes so far as to say he should have intervened further(same link):

In the months that followed that meeting, I asked my staff to follow up regarding Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s final decision. I realize now that in addition, I should have done so personally, given the importance of this issue and the jobs that were on the line.

It’s that last bit that begins to reveal how Trudeau, in his increasingly desperate attempt to save himself, may unintentionally be giving Trump a lifeline.

Yesterday, the PM’s former top mandarin – Gerald Butts – testified before the House Justice Committee about his own interventions. He, too, defended them on the basis of the jobs lost if SNC-Lavalin went under. Paul Wells of Maclean’s(full disclosure: my favorite columnist in North America) explains the disconnect (emphasis in original):

To put labels on the two viewpoints here, Wilson-Raybould obviously thought a decision by the AG to interfere in decisions about public prosecutions should be exceptional. Butts thinks it should be routine. Wilson-Raybould wants the independence of the director of public prosecutions to be robust. Butts wants that independence to be minimal.

Does any of that sound familiar?

At first glance, Trudeau’s excuse may seem more policy-driven than Trump’s. First glances can be deceiving though. In both cases, the national leaders are using the economy as a cover for stopping legal proceedings that would hurt their political prospects. They are both hoping their voters and their intra-party allies focus not on the damage done to the rule of law but rather the supposedly noble goals they were pursuing while doing the damage.

Of course, Trudeau and Trump would list those “noble goals” rather differently, but both lists include “jobs” – now more than ever. Moreover, with an election seven months away, Trudeau is almost certain to use Trump as a foil in the upcoming campaign, insisting the opposition Conservatives are kinsmen of the rancid Trump Administration in the hopes his Liberal base will stay with him via outrage and fear.

Of course, what works for Trudeau in 2019 can – and almost certainly will – be used by Trump in 2020. In fact, unless the Conservatives do dethrone Trudeau this October, Trump could use “Crooked Justin” as an asset for his own re-election, even as he borrows the PM’s playbook.

D.J. McGuire – a self-described progressive conservative – has been part of the More Perfect Union Podcast since 2015. He is also a contributor to Bearing Drift.