- Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Anu Narayanswamy The Washington Post
President Donald Trump entered 2018 with more than $32 million in the coffers of his reelection campaign and two affiliated committees, according to new Federal Election Commission filings made Wednesday evening.
Trump's campaign committee and two fundraising committees that are joint operations with the Republican National Committee — Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — together raised over $52 million in 2017. In comparison, President Barack Obama's campaign and his joint fundraising committee, Obama Victory, did not raise any money in the first year of his presidency in 2009, filings show.
The new filings showed that spending on legal consulting by Trump's candidate committee surged in the fourth quarter of 2017, amid escalating investigations by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In the last quarter of 2017, Trump's campaign committee spent $1.1 million in legal fees — 41 percent of its total expenses. In the previous three quarters, the committee spent a total of $2 million.
Lara Trump, the president's daughter-in-law and senior adviser to his campaign committee, in a statement called Trump's cash on hand "an unprecedented feat for a sitting President in his first year in office."
"Our latest FEC report is just one reflection of a fundamental reality: grassroots support for President Trump is stronger than ever," her statement read.
Unlike his predecessors, Trump began fundraising for 2020 soon after he won the presidency. Much of the money raised thus far is fueled by small-dollar donors who gave less than $200, in response to fundraising solicitation emails monetizing the political climate.
These solicitation emails regularly bashed news media, touted grass-roots support for Trump and marketed campaign merchandise.
"The media distorts everything I say or do," one recent message read. "I hope I can count on your renewed support to fight back against their nasty attacks as we focus on our mission to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!"
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Trump's campaign paid $15,067 to his properties — bringing the total to $549,932 since his election, filings show.