The Trump campaign reportedly cheated donors who thought they were making a one-time contribution, collecting recurring donations

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Former President Donald Trump.

  • The Trump 2020 campaign reportedly duped supporters into making recurring donations without their consent.
  • Donors, including cancer patients, who intended to make a one-time contribution ended up making more.
  • According to the New York Times, donations were automatically set to repeat when supporters got to the final stages of contributing.
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In what seemed to be an effort to bolster political contributions in the heat of the 2020 election against now President Joe Biden, the Trump 2020 campaign reportedly duped supporters into making recurring donations without their explicit or known consent.

An investigation of Federal Election Commission records done by the New York Times found that the Trump campaign, in the last two months of 2020, was forced to give hundreds of thousands of refunds in the amount of about $64 million. In total the campaign refunded $122 million, the newspaper said.

Many of these accidental repeat donors believed they were signing up to give a one-time contribution, the New York Times reported. Some of the victims of this scheme, like 63-year-old Stacy Blatt, were cancer patients who found themselves unable to pay bills and rent because of the repeated donations to the Trump campaign, the newspaper reported.

It started with an unusual and “aggressive” move: the addition of a small, bright yellow box on Trump’s campaign donation portal in March 2020.

“Make this a monthly recurring donation,” the text in the box read. The box had automatically been checked off as soon as donors landed on the page, the Times reported.

In order to avoid this recurring donation, donors had to manually opt out, the Times said.

Months later, the donation portal added a second pre-checked box. This time, the box automatically directed an additional contribution from the donor in honor of Trump’s birthday in June, according to the Times.

Between June and September, contributions were pouring into the Biden campaign. So the Trump campaign ramped up its approach.

By September, the text in the initial pre-checked box silently changed from “monthly” to “weekly” donation, according to the newspaper.

At this point, the Biden campaign had outraised Trump’s by about $150 million, the Times reported. At the same time, Trump’s own campaign finances were depleting.

Unrealizing Trump supporters began to make several repeated donations to the campaign over the course of a month.

Critics who spoke to the Times blasted the move.

“It’s unfair, it’s unethical and it’s inappropriate,” Ira Rheingold, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, said.

“It should be in textbooks of what you shouldn’t do,” London-based Harry Brignull, a user-experience designer familiar with manipulative digital marketing practices, told the paper.

Jason Miller, a spokesperson for Trump, told the Times: “The fact we had a dispute rate of less than 1 percent of total donations despite raising more grass-roots money than any campaign in history is remarkable.”

The repeat donations became particularly rampant in the months between September and October, after the campaign employed the series of aggressive moves, the Times reported.

In total, the Trump campaign returned a staggering 10.7% of money secured through WinRed, the Republican Party’s contribution portal. In contrast, the Biden campaign returned just 2.2% of the money raised through ActBlue, the Democratic Party’s counterpart.

Trump supporters who had unwittingly donated their money to the campaign filed fraud complaints upon noticing unauthorized withdrawals, the Times reported.

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Trump campaign launches yet another lawsuit over Pennsylvania election

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People participate in a protest in support of counting all votes on November 5, 2020 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • The Trump campaign is asking the US Supreme Court to overrule Pennsylvania judges and throw out tens of thousands of mail-in ballots.
  • President-elect Joe Biden won Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes.
  • The outgoing president’s legal team has repeatedly lost in court, having failed to prove Trump’s decisive loss was the product of fraud.
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Donald Trump lost Pennsylvania by more than 80,000 votes, but in a last-ditch effort to steal victory from the jaws of defeat, the outgoing president’s legal team is asking the US Supreme Court to throw out over 110,000 mail-in ballots.

Prior to the November election, Pennsylvania’s highest court issued a unanimous decision that mail-in votes should not be rejected solely because a signature on the ballot looked different than the one on file. That and other rulings are at the heart of the Trump legal team’s most recent litigation, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Under the US Constitution, states administer federal elections. But the Trump campaign, in a petition filed Sunday, asks the US Supreme Court to overrule their counterparts in Pennsylvania and declare tens of thousands of votes “invalid,” despite the fact that voters cast them according to the established rules at the time.

“The petition seeks all appropriate remedies, including vacating the appointment of electors committed to Joseph Biden and allowing the Pennsylvania General Assembly to select their replacements,” Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

The Trump campaign and its allies have not fared well in the courts, however. Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court rejected an effort by Texas and other states to throw out votes in Pennsylvania and other battlegrounds that went for President-elect Joe Biden.

As the Inquirer noted, this latest round of litigation is being led by John C. Eastman, a law professor who previously leveled racially tinged “birther” claims against Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, baselessly suggesting that the daughter of immigrants was not eligible for US citizenship.

Democrats do not appear concerned, courts have previously refused to throw out citizens’ votes. On Twitter, Pennsylvania Lt. Governor John Fetterman responded to the lawsuit with a series of mocking images, including one depicting the “Trump Campaign” versus “Math.”

Pennsylvania’s 20 electors cast their votes for President-elect Biden last Monday, formally recognizing his victory in the Electoral College.

Have a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

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Chris Christie criticizes the Trump campaign’s legal approach as ‘an absurdity’

Chris Christie
Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

  • Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday criticized President Donald Trump’s legal team, calling their approach to overturn the election results “an absurdity.”
  • “It’s an absurd idea to think that any state, or any number of states, no matter how good they are, can challenge another state’s right to run the election as they see fit,” he said. 
  • In an unsigned order issued on December 11, the Supreme Court declined to hear the GOP-backed lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton due to lack of standing.
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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday criticized President Donald Trump’s legal team, calling their approach to overturn the election results “an absurdity.”

During an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” the Republican questioned the efforts of Republicans who are contesting the election results and President-elect Joe Biden’s win without providing concrete evidence of widespread fraud in court.

“Listen, the legal theory put forward by his legal team and by the president is an absurdity,” Christie said. “The reason why the Supreme Court didn’t take it is because it’s an absurd idea to think that any state, or any number of states, no matter how good they are, can challenge another state’s right to run the election as they see fit. And also there’s no evidence.”

In an unsigned order issued on December 11, the Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton due to lack of standing. In addition to Paxton, 17 state attorneys general and 126 Congressional Republicans had signed an amicus brief backing the lawsuit.

Host Martha Raddatz asked Christie how the Republican Party would move forward.

“People are going to have to stand up and start to say these things,” he said, “I mean, you know, the fact is in Georgia, and people should know this, that signature verification, which the president continues to tweet about, has been done twice in this election,” Christie said.

The former governor is referring to Trump’s debunked claims that ballot signatures were not verified by election officials in Georgia, a state where he lost to Biden by a little over 12,000 votes. The president has maintained that he won the state, despite the recertified results officiating Biden’s win.

Christie added: “The reason the Supreme Court is not taking this is not because of a lack of courage. It’s for the same reason that every court has thrown this out. It’s a lack of evidence and a lack of any type of legal theory that makes any sense.”

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