President Trump's campaign has been sending out dozens of emails and text messages a day since Wednesday, asking for money for the outgoing president's "election defense fund." The pace of the emails seems to have picked up after The Associated Press and TV networks called the race for President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday.
If you read the fine print of these Trump "election defense fund" solicitations, though, "half — or more — of any contribution will be used to retire debt from his re-election campaign," The Wall Street Journal reports. "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 percent of a contribution helps the campaign retire debt and 40 percent goes to the Republican National Committee."
"Biden's campaign has also launched a fundraising effort in anticipation of a drawn-out legal battle," and "while the fine print does not include any disclaimer about retiring campaign debt, it does indicate that a portion of the donation would go toward the Democratic National Committee," USA Today reports. "The national party committees — the RNC and DNC — often play a prominent role in financing election legal proceedings," the Journal notes.
The Trump disclaimer about retiring campaign debt is "a particularly conspicuous clause given Trump had previously said he might put up his own money for his reelection effort," Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post. "Even as he swears he has a legitimate legal case, he's not just declining to use his own money, but he's diverting half the money raised for it to another purpose tied to the winding down of the campaign." In other signs this is mostly about optics, Trump's campaign hasn't "put up the approximately $3 million required for a recount in Wisconsin," he adds. "Perhaps the Trump legal team believes that money might be better spent in other ways, given recounts usually only shift a few hundred votes, but it doesn't exactly suggest an all-hands-on-deck effort."