Vance and other Republicans pounce on Trump indictment as “fundraising gold” from MAGA zealots

April 4, 2023 4:30 am

VANDALIA, OHIO -Former U.S. President Donald Trump and Ohio Republican U.S. Senator JD Vance. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Bonus day for indictment grifters came early last week! Among the first to cash in on the judicial comeuppance of a gilded conman holed up in Florida was none other than Ohio’s own snake in the grass, Republican J.D. Vance. The poser playing U.S. Senator and MAGA prince — thanks to billionaire coastal elitists and opportunistic fawning over said conman — was quick to exploit a grand jury decision for money.

Without knowing the charges or evidence considered in the criminal case against a notoriously crooked defendant, Vance jumped on the GOP bandwagon encircling the defendant and got busy soliciting donations. Fundraising, not legal accountability under due process, mattered to the shameless exploiter who hit up supporters less than an hour after charges were filed in court.

“This is unfair on so many levels,” read the Vance fundraising text with a link to donate. “President Trump has been indicted for being a patriot. Click here to demand his freedom” (And rush a donation to me.) “Check this box to stand with Trump and JD.”  

Other MAGA manipulators joined Vance in taking advantage of the indictment news to coax contributions from the gullible. New York Rep. Elise Stefanik urged solicitations to an “Official Trump Defense Fund.” Please. A weepy Sen. Lindsey Graham pleaded (pathetically) with Fox News viewers to “Go to and give money.” 

The day after his indictment, the biggest grifter of them all raked in more than $4 million in 24 hours after sending out multiple fundraising appeals. Don’t cry for me, Lindsey. Just panic the easily duped with doomsday predictions and pass the hat. Turns out the ad hoc howling by the accused and his compliant lemmings was about making bank. It worked.  

Screaming about the injustice of “unwarranted” (also unseen) and “politically motivated” charges” filed by a “corrupt prosecutor” pulled in a ton of campaign dough for MAGA swindlers who continue to milk the faux outrage to shake down Trump fans for big bucks. Clearly, the immediate uproar over the Trump indictment had nothing to do with the facts of the case (because they were unknown at the time) and everything to do with capitalizing on conjectured disaster. 

The con artist who once cavalierly boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters,” long reveled in his self-image as an untouchable SOB. Dodging accountability (for anything) made the ‘Teflon Don’ myth stick. But then a grand jury pierced that veneer of invincibility and set legal accountability for criminal accusations into motion. 

MAGA Republicans went into overdrive to recast the rule of law as illegitimate and inapplicable to a twice-impeached ex-president under investigation in multiple jurisdictions for multiple crimes. The fundraising narratives coalesced around common threads. The defendant is too important to be hauled into court like ordinary mortals. 

The 2024 presidential candidate (who nearly stole the last election he lost) ought to be exempt. He’s a cult hero to millions (including the tens of thousands he incited to storm the U.S. Capitol.) 

He’s entitled to act with impunity as a powerful rich guy — and prosecution is beyond the pale for powerful rich guys who used to be president. It’s a witch hunt. 

Fundraising missives were heavy on dread over a sealed indictment and unrevealed charges. All-CAPS blasts called for urgent response in the form of $10, $25, $50, $100, $250, $500, $1000 or ‘other’ (as Vance solicited) to save Trump and America. A longtime Trump adviser confided that the indictment is “political gold in a primary” and “definitely political gold for fundraising.” 

But payoff in both depends on sustained provocation. Trump and J.D. have to keep the base riled up enough to make noise and send money. There is no line they won’t cross to stoke fear and loathing among MAGA diehards itching for a fight. Trump went so far as to post a picture of himself wielding a bat placed next to an image of the New York district attorney’s head.

He referred to Alvin Bragg, the first Black DA in Manhattan, in blatantly racist terms as a “Soros-backed animal” and warned of “death and destruction” if Bragg had the audacity to bring charges against him. Trump supporters answered in kind by swamping the district attorney’s office with death threats, including a package sent with suspicious powder and a note vowing to kill Bragg. 

Vance piled on with other Republicans blowing racist dog whistles and calling attention to the DA’s race to agitate the white grievance crowd with innuendo certain to resonate. He tweeted a vague (unconfirmed) anecdote insinuating that the DA prosecuting the Dear Leader looked the other way when his people assailed white people.

“A week ago a video circulated of a lunatic harassing a family on a New York subway. He hurled racial slurs (the family was white) and threatened them. Alvin Bragg thinks that man should walk free and Donald Trump should go to jail for a fake misdemeanor. It’s despicable.”

No. What’s despicable is a junior senator from Ohio spewing garbage to get a rise out of white nationalists in order to strike gold with primary voters and fundraising dollars. It’s all about J.D. Damn the consequences.



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Marilou Johanek
Marilou Johanek

Marilou Johanek is a veteran Ohio print and broadcast journalist who has covered state and national politics as a longtime newspaper editorial writer and columnist.