Donations for Trump's 2020 war chest surge as impeachment bid fires up Republicans

Nick Allen
In the 72 hours after the impeachment inquiry was announced, Donald Trump's campaign took in $15 million in donations - REUTERS
In the 72 hours after the impeachment inquiry was announced, Donald Trump's campaign took in $15 million in donations - REUTERS

Donald Trump and the Republican party are using the prospect of impeachment to raise a record election war chest, firing up supporters and hauling in unprecedented amounts of money.

Republican officials said there had been a "groundswell" of support from the party's rank-and-file in the days after Democrats in Congress announced an impeachment inquiry into the president over the Ukraine scandal. It looks set to spur Mr Trump to an extraordinary total for the 2020 campaign, which could ultimately hit $2 billion.

In the 72 hours after Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat House speaker, announced the impeachment inquiry Mr Trump's re-election campaign took in $15 million, which his campaign manager Brad Parscale described as "amazing".

The more significant figure was that it included money from 50,000 new small donors, who were from all 50 states.

At one point Mr Trump sent out an email saying "I've done nothing wrong, trust me," asking for support for an "Impeachment Defense Task Force". Around $1 million arrived in the next three hours.

The impeachment inquiry was launched after a CIA whistle-blower raised the alarm about a July 25 telephone call between Mr Trump and Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the president of Ukraine.

Mr Trump is accused of pressuring Mr Zelenskiy to investigate Joe Biden, the Democrat front-runner, over business dealings his son Hunter had with an energy company in Ukraine. Both Bidens have denied any wrongdoing.  

Meanwhile, donations to the Republican National Congressional Committee, which works to re-elect Republicans to Congress, saw donations up by over 600 per cent. Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican party, said supporters were "fired up".

The party's finance chairman, Todd Ricketts, told Yahoo: "Countless Americans are voting with their cheque books, resulting in an unprecedented amount of financial support."

In Nevada, the Republican party began marketing "Impeach this" t-shirts and merchandise.

Next week the scale of Mr Trump's war chest will become clear as a deadline to file third quarter totals with the Federal Election Commission approaches.

Mr Trump is known to have already raised over $200 million, which is more than the combined total for all two dozen Democrats who launched 2020 White House campaigns.

In a new Ipsos poll 64 per cent of Americans said the telephone call with Mr Zelenskiy represented a "serious problem". But only 17 per cent said they were "surprised" by it. Just three per cent were "very surprised".

White House officials launched a concerted defence of the president on Sunday. Rudy Giuliani, Mr Trump's lawyer, himself a central figure in the Ukraine affair, said: "If he [Mr Trump] hadn't asked them to investigate Biden, he would have violated the constitution."

Stephen Miller, adviser to Mr Trump, said: "The president is the whistle-blower here, and this individual [the CIA officer] is a saboteur trying to undermine a democratically elected government."

Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat chairman of the House intelligence committee, said the whistle-blower had agreed to appear before the committee. His identity will be protected.

It was also "paramount" to obtain records of Mr Trump's conversations with Vladimir Putin, Mr Schiff added.

Mrs Pelosi said the American people were now on the side of an impeachment inquiry. She said: "In the public, the tide has completely changed."

Experts said it may lead to Mr Trump resolving his trade war with China. He could accept an imperfect deal in order to raise his approval rating at home.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration was reportedly continuing to investigate Hillary Clinton's emails from when she was secretary of state, and in recent weeks contacted up to 130 officials who sent emails to her.