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Trump guilty verdict fires up some Republican donors

JABIN BOTSFORD/POOL VIA REUTERS
                                Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as jurors are released to begin deliberations for his criminal trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, N.Y., today. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records last year, which prosecutors say was an effort to hide a potential sex scandal, both before and after the 2016 presidential election.
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JABIN BOTSFORD/POOL VIA REUTERS

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as jurors are released to begin deliberations for his criminal trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, N.Y., today. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records last year, which prosecutors say was an effort to hide a potential sex scandal, both before and after the 2016 presidential election.

REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR / MAY 30
                                Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrate following the verdict in his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in New York City.
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REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR / MAY 30

Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrate following the verdict in his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in New York City.

JABIN BOTSFORD/POOL VIA REUTERS
                                Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as jurors are released to begin deliberations for his criminal trial at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, N.Y., today. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records last year, which prosecutors say was an effort to hide a potential sex scandal, both before and after the 2016 presidential election.
REUTERS/MIKE SEGAR / MAY 30
                                Supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump demonstrate following the verdict in his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in New York City.

Major Republican donors say they are going to keep pumping cash into supporting Donald Trump’s presidential run, excited by polls showing him in the lead and fired up by his unprecedented criminal conviction, according to interviews with around a dozen donors and fundraisers.

>> RELATED: Jury finds Donald Trump guilty on all 34 counts at hush money trial

Many conservative donors already viewed the New York hush money cash as political persecution, echoing the Republican presidential candidate’s claim that Democrats are trying to weaken him ahead of the Nov. 5 election against President Joe Biden. Prosecutors have dismissed those claims as untrue. A New York jury found Trump guilty on Thursday of falsifying documents to cover up a payment to silence a porn star ahead of the 2016 election.

Republican donors are mostly eyeing a growing number of public opinion polls that put Trump ahead against Biden in some battleground states.

“I think that big donors are paying attention to the polls, not the verdict,” said oil businessman Dan Eberhart, a Trump donor who also helps raise money for the former president’s campaign. “The polls are motivating this latest round of businessmen,” Eberhart added, saying that calls from donors had picked up “considerably.”

Robert Bigelow, who is one of Trump’s top supporters having given over $9 million to an outside group supporting him, said the verdict had no impact on him. “All of the charges are contrived,” Bigelow told Reuters.

A Silicon Valley tech investor, Shaun Maguire, posted on social media site X after the verdict that he had donated $300,000 to support Trump. “I believe our justice system is being weaponized against him,” said Maguire, who described himself as a former Hillary Clinton supporter who switched to supporting Trump in 2021 after Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The interviews show the depth of Trump’s donor support despite his legal woes, suggesting he will retain significant financial firepower against Biden including from Wall Street, tech and the oil sector.

The donors interviewed by Reuters were upbeat about Trump winning in November and felt the New York case against Trump was weak and designed to ensnare him.

After setting out with a major fundraising disadvantage against Biden, Trump for the first time in April outraised his Democratic rival, aided by a flurry of major fundraising events across the country. Several major donors, including casino billionaire Miriam Adelson, recently pledged support for Trump.

Andy Sabin, a metals businessman and Republican donor who supported three different candidates in the Republican presidential before settling on voting for Trump but has not donated to him so far, does not see the verdict having an impact.

“I haven’t met one donor yet that gives a shit about the trial. No matter how much they hate Trump, they think he’s getting screwed,” said Sabin, who regularly attends fundraisers and is donating to congressional candidates.

Trump can absolutely win the election, Sabin added, “as long as he keeps his mouth shut.”

In the last few weeks, Trump has hit the fundraising trail hard, hosting high-end events from Texas to New York. He is due to host three fundraisers in California next month, according to invitations seen by Reuters, including one in left-wing San Francisco hosted by tech venture capitalists.

“Every event that I’m involved with is exceeding budget,” said George Glass, a major Trump campaign fundraiser and his former ambassador to Portugal. “Most donors feel like the ‘fix’ is in,” Glass said about legal proceedings against Trump.

Some Republican donors do remain holdouts, put off by the Jan. 6, 2021, capitol riot, Trump’s brash attitude or the prospect of Trump being sentenced to jail. “I’m on the sidelines,” said one donor unsure about whether to donate, mostly because of the “drama” around Trump.

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