The Dark Money finances Trump’s coup – Byline Times
On January 6, 2021, far-right groups and supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempted insurgency. A year later, Sian Norris and Heidi Siegmund Cuda reflect on what happened that day in a series of articles outlining how far-right goals expressed by the “mob” became the policy of the Republican elite.
It all started with a “big lie”.
As the votes piled up for Democratic candidate Joe Biden on November 3, 2020, Donald Trump continued to send the message to his base that the election was stolen, rehashing a Roger Stone slogan “Stop the Steal” repeated for the first time in 2016. It was a lie that would become more and more dangerous.
On January 6, 2021, U.S. lawmakers gathered on Capitol Hill to certify Biden’s Electoral College victory. Outside, Trump was leading a “Save America” rally for his supporters. In an inflammatory speech, he claimed the election was rigged and Democrats won through voter fraud.
The attempted far-right revolution is said to be televised. News anchors struggled to find the language to describe the scenes, as what had started as a rally turned into a riot, turned into an attempted insurgency. The predominantly white, predominantly male crowd – some of whom carried weapons and equipment to take hostages – claimed to represent America.
The entanglement of movements on Capitol Hill that day makes it difficult to blame the violent events that followed on any group or individual. However, what has become clear is that Trump’s money was behind the organization of the initial ‘Save America’ event, while black money from donors and groups of The radical right has helped spread the “big lie” and bring violence to the heart of American democracy.
The Trump team
Organizing a rally costs money and it is money the Trump team has been keen to spend to get their conspiratorial message that the 2020 US presidential election has been stolen. OpenSecrets’ analysis has since revealed how Trump and the “black money” groups raised millions for the organizers of the rally.
Funding recipients included various people employed to organize the rally, named in permits granted by the National Park Service to organize the event on January 6. OpenSecrets discovered that rally operations associate James Oaks received a salary of $ 126,000 from the Trump campaign until at least November 2020, while rally behind-the-scenes director Ronald Holden was paid approximately $ 72,000 for payroll and advice at the start of 2020.
Another person named in the permit was William Wilson, who in October 2020 received around $ 6,000 in payments for advanced counseling until November 2020 alone. Caroline Wren, listed on the permit as a “VIP advisor” for the rally, received $ 170,000 from Operation Trump. Wren has since been subpoenaed for his involvement in the events.
Another VIP figure at the event was Maggie Mulvaney, niece of former acting Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. OpenSecrets discovered that Trump’s 2020 campaign had paid him at least $ 138,000 until November 2020.
Mulvaney was subpoenaed for her role on Jan. 6, 2021, as was Megan Powers, consultant and “operations manager” for the event who was paid around $ 300,000 as the director of operations for the Trump campaign. The Make America Great Again PAC – a group dedicated to helping Trump win the White House a second time – paid Powers an additional $ 20,000 for a “board recount” in 2021.
Other people working on the rally and paid by Operation Trump include Justin Caporale and Tim Unes, who were paid more than $ 117,000 by the Trump campaign until at least November 2020. The couple’s company, Event Strategies, received more than $ 1.7 million from Trump’s campaign. and a joint fundraising committee.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr’s fiancee Kimberly Guilfoyle bragged about raising $ 3 million for the rally, and lobbied to include far-right speakers in the run-up to the riot.
America First politicians affiliated with Trump also offered financial support for the events of January 6, with tax returns obtained by OpenSecrets showing that it provided funding to Women for America First, a nonprofit 501 ( c) (4) who submitted the rally permit files to the National Park Service.
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Radical supporters of the right
But the black money behind the rally went beyond Donald Trump’s campaign payroll. It involved various radical right-wing backers and the projects they support, some of which have actively transported rioters to Capitol Hill with the message that they must “save America” and “fight for this president.”
The Donors Trust, a hidden organization that funds a range of projects in both the United States and Europe, is at the heart of the radical right’s black money operations.
The list of its beneficiaries includes climate denial, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTIQ and pro-Brexit forces, including those with ties to the British Conservative Party.
As a donor advised fund, Donors Trust is under no legal obligation to disclose the identity of its donors and many of them remain anonymous. However, it is widely believed that he is linked to oil and gas billionaires the Koch brothers, while Robert Mercer’s family foundation donated $ 20 million in 2020.
One of the recipients of the Donors Trust money is the Federalist Society, an organization linked to the events of January 6, including through John Eastman, chairman of the Society’s Federalism and Separation of Powers practice group.
As January 6 approached, Eastman joined Trump’s “command center” at the Willard Hotel in Washington DC, where Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani – who had called for a “combat trial” before the events – Strategist Steve Bannon and former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who was there as an investigator, and others, devised a strategy to prevent Biden’s presidency. On January 4, Eastman went to the Oval Office with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to present scenarios for denying Biden the presidency.
Eastman is also the author of what is known as the “Eastman Memo,” describing a scenario proposed to block certification of Joe Biden’s election. “The bottom line here is for Pence to do this without asking permission,” the memo read. On January 6, John Eastman told the assembled crowd that any member of Congress “who does not want to stand up” and vote against the certification of the 2020 election results “does not deserve to be in office.”
The Federalist Society played an important role in shaping the US justice system under Trump. Leonard Leo, the company’s long-time former vice president and co-chair of its board of directors, has been a major influence on Trump’s judicial appointments throughout his presidency, including his choices to the Supreme Court. Leo worked with the Trump and George W. Bush administrations to bring his men to the Supreme Court bench, with pro-abortion organization NARAL claiming Leo was “personally responsible for helping to install a third of the Supreme Court current “.
The Supreme Court would have a say in whether or not the 2020 elections were stolen. In this case, he chose to defend democracy. But as we will see in the rest of this series, the influence of the radical right in court helps achieve the far-right goals of the insurgents.
Leonard Leo is linked to The 85 fund, which received $ 48.7 million in grants from the Donors Trust in 2020, more than six times the group’s total revenues for 2018.
This money is being distributed through groups that helped support the “big lie” or were actively involved in the January 6 incidents. These include the Honest Elections Project, which filed a brief with the United States Supreme Court claiming that the Pennsylvania court had usurped the power of the legislature to oversee the elections. It failed, but electoral law professor Richard Hasen called the arguments “powder kegs” that threaten American democracy. Turning Point USA won grants worth $ 580,000 from Fund 85. The organization – which has ties to Conservative Party donors through its UK branch – took protesters by bus to Washington DC
Stormfrom the Capitol
Bradley Impact, managed by the Bradley Foundation, is another organization that funds the ‘big lie’. Tax declarations for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, exposed by investigative journalists to Interception, revealed how Bradley Impact funded groups that constitute “a network of electoral fraud plotters and undertook legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election”. These include the Public Interest Legal Foundation, which received over $ 300,000 from Bradley Impact and that the New Yorker accused of “leading the way” in attempts to annul the 2020 elections.
Public Interest Legal Foundation attorney Hans von Spakovsky and its former chairman J Christian Adams were appointed by Trump in 2017 to investigate voter fraud, though they found little to substantiate their claims that a such fraud was widespread. According to Jane Meyer in the New Yorker, the two men have “supported the lies of Trump since he took office.” Von Spakovsky now heads the Heritage Foundation’s Electoral Law Reform Initiative, which received grants from the Bradley Foundation.
In November, the Heritage Foundation hosted UK Home Secretary Priti Patel for a speech. She joined her colleagues Liz Truss, Liam Fox and former MP Owen Paterson in the list of Conservatives who spoke to the radical right-wing think tank.
Anne Nelson, author of Shadow Network: media, money and the secret hub of the radical right, Recount Signing time: “The flow of black money to sow chaos and disruption has continued unabated since January 6, 2021, emanating from both Koch and fundamentalist donor circles. We can observe their influence in media campaigns promoting false allegations of electoral fraud in 2020, as well as the funding of COVID-19 disinformation which increases the current record number of cases.
“The public must be alert to the threat of these disinformation campaigns and realize that the goal is to destabilize our government and our health care system for political gain, regardless of the cost in human lives. “
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