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Donald Trump's fine: what impact on the financing of his campaign?

A first respite.

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Donald Trump's fine: what impact on the financing of his campaign?

A first respite. On Monday, Donald Trump deposited a guarantee of 175 million dollars with the American courts, avoiding the humiliating prospect of legal seizures of his assets after his conviction to 454 million dollars in fines for financial fraud. Eight months before the American presidential election, the former President of the United States, candidate for his return to the White House, was convicted in mid-February in this civil case, which he appealed, for financial fraud within his real estate empire Trump Organization. He is accused of having inflated his real estate assets to the tune of several billion dollars.

Freed from this first weight, Donald Trump gave a boost to his campaign by organizing meetings on Tuesday in Michigan and Wisconsin, two decisive states to win against Joe Biden in the November election. But the 77-year-old Republican billionaire is behind in raising funds to finance his campaign. What political consequences could this delay obtained by the billionaire have? Le Figaro takes stock.

No. Donald Trump only advanced five million euros to the insurance company, and did not call on his Pac dedicated to his legal woes, Save America. “He could not use his campaign funds to pay his fine,” explains Nicole Bacharan, political historian specializing in the United States.

On the other hand, one certainty remains: Donald Trump needs money in his race for the election which is already shaping up to be the most expensive in the history of the United States. The former president is trailing Joe Biden in fundraising with seven months of campaigning remaining. Nothing prohibitive: during his election in 2016, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the billionaire spent $343.1 million compared to $585.6 million for his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

Also read: Could Donald Trump's fine make him ineligible if he didn't pay it?

Maybe. Some undecided voters could turn away from him. “It could get stuck because his accounts are not squared,” says Nicole Bacharan. It harms his reputation as a businessman, and it could create reluctance.”

One certainty, however: his followers will follow him whatever happens, and only see this affair as “a simple trickery on the part of a businessman”, according to Romuald Sciora, associate researcher at IRIS and director from the IRIS United States Political and Geostrategic Observatory. “The amount of security that was posted shocked many American citizens,” he continues. The fine was disproportionate and was considered incriminating by many observers. We must not forget the American mentality, very different from France: he did not steal from an old lady, he defrauded a bank. Having affected the banking economy will affect neutral voters less.”

Very probably. For several weeks now, the former head of state has been touring his billionaire friends by telephone, in the hope that they will take out their checkbooks, including Elon Musk. Even if the latter has publicly stated that he does not support either Joe Biden or Donald Trump during the American elections, his messages on X (formerly Twitter) leave no doubt about his Republican affinities.

“A certain number of big donors are still hesitant,” says Nicole Bacharan. They are waiting a bit because of the large number of remaining question marks.” For Romuald Sciora, “some might not hide” and “give on a whim”.

Another, more indirect means of support is the influence of billionaires in their respective sectors. Even without a tangible contribution, Elon Musk's positions give Donald Trump an obvious boost. On X, he regularly supports and relays unfounded conspiracy theories, false information and right-wing speeches aligned with those of the former leader, particularly on immigration.

Some US electoral laws allow a controversial financial system whereby it is possible to sponsor a candidate incognito via non-profit organizations specially created for this purpose. They can run ads that literally say “vote for Trump,” without having to disclose funding sources.

Yes. Even if he only has “half the amount accumulated by Joe Biden” so far, Donald Trump can catch up thanks to corporate donations, according to Nicole Bacharan. And, as the 2016 campaign proved, having the biggest budget does not equal victory. “He has such a base made up of people committed to his cause that his message is conveyed by an incalculable number of media in the USA,” observes Romuald Sciora. And there are fewer fears about him today than during his first victorious election.”

Above all, in the last poll published in mid-March by the New York Times, voting intentions gave 48% for Donald Trump against 43% for Joe Biden, despite this financial disadvantage. “All the money invested by Joe Biden is not reaching its target for the moment,” continues the researcher associated with IRIS. I think Donald Trump will catch up during the summer.”

Yes. With his numerous ongoing legal cases, the Republican candidate remains faithful to his sulphurous reputation. From April 15, the former president will have to appear in a New York court in a case of hidden payments to avoid embarrassing revelations during the 2016 presidential election, including $ 130,000 to buy the silence of a former porn star on an alleged relationship that the ex-president refutes. At the end of this trial, Donald Trump theoretically faces up to a prison sentence if he is found guilty.

“His other cases are more complex, because they are criminal,” says Romuald Sciora. His trial may affect some religious voters, but it is likely that they will vote for him with a clothespin to their nose. They say to themselves: 'He sinned, but who has not sinned?'

The former president also faces trial in two other cases, in Georgia and in federal court in Washington, for his alleged illegal attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and in another case involving the handling of classified documents. confidential upon his departure from the White House in 2021. But the holding of trials in these three cases before the presidential election is uncertain, after several postponements due to appeals filed by the billionaire's lawyers. He could thus avoid a first: never has an American candidate been imprisoned in the middle of a campaign.

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