Trump’s First Week as a Felon: Fundraisers, Fans and a Trip Out West

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Donald Trump prepares to speak at a news conference at Trump Tower the day after his conviction.

For seven weeks, Donald Trump fumed about being stuck in a New York courtroom and made a point to campaign in Democratic territory, rallying in New Jersey and courting voters of color in the Bronx.

Convicted last week and freed up – for now – Trump has returned to his comfort zone.

He basked in supportive chants at an Ultimate Fighting Championship event, sat for a nearly 90-minute interview with Fox News hosts and returned home to his Mar-a-Lago Club, where people cheered his arrival. He filmed short videos that would provide his supporters a steady stream of his thoughts on social media and blasted out emails assuring them that “I will always love you.” On Thursday, he will appear at an Arizona town hall hosted by Turning Point Action, an activist group that has championed his false claims that the 2020 election was rigged.

Then the former president will attend three West Coast fundraisers ahead of a Las Vegas rally Sunday, looking to extend a post-trial surge of donations that are helping him close the gap with President Biden’s cash.

“We had a record-setting amount of money that was raised,” Trump boasted in an interview that aired Tuesday night on Newsmax, calling his New York trial a “terrible precedent for our country” and suggesting his enemies might someday find themselves prosecuted as well.

Trump often complained that the New York case was keeping him off the campaign trail. He traveled for some rallies on the weekends and held weekday events in New York City, but the trial still constrained him – and took a toll on his mood, according to some people close to him who, like some others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to share private conversations.

Now the candidate has much more free time. His other court cases still hang over the campaign, but it is not clear if any others will go to trial before the election.

Democrats remain hopeful the conviction in the New York hush money case will hurt Trump with the crucial minority of voters who are still persuadable. The case trained public attention on unflattering allegations about Trump’s personal life: Prosecutors said Trump cheated on his wife with a porn actress, paid the actress to stay quiet and then falsified business records to cover it up. Trump pleaded not guilty and denied having sex with the woman. He was found guilty on all 34 counts and faces potential prison time.

An ABC News-Ipsos poll found that 50 percent of Americans agreed with the guilty verdict and 49 percent think he should end his presidential campaign because of it. But the same poll found that Trump’s favorability ratings were unchanged after the verdict, and legal experts have said it’s unlikely he would be incarcerated because this is his first conviction. The GOP is set to formally nominate Trump for president at their convention a few days after his scheduled July 11 sentencing.

Trump is spending this week trying to take advantage of the upside of his unprecedented conviction: a fired-up base that has rallied behind him and delivered what the Trump campaign says is its best fundraising stretch of the year. Trump’s campaign said on Monday that, together with the Republican National Committee, he had raised $141 million in May, with $53 million of that raised online in the 24 hours after his conviction.

A haul of that size would signal a significant financial turnaround for Trump, who outraised Biden in April but remained well behind him in total cash in the last reports released by the Federal Election Commission. The Trump campaign’s self-reported fundraising figures cannot yet be verified.

On Thursday, after the Arizona event, Trump will head to San Francisco for a fundraiser co-hosted by venture capitalist David Sacks, according to a person familiar with the event. Sacks had previously backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis – helping to launch his campaign on X – and also hosted fundraisers for Republican Vivek Ramaswamy and now-independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

On Friday, the former president will continue his fundraising spree with a gathering in Beverly Hills, Calif., chaired by people who have contributed $250,000, according to an invitation reviewed by The Washington Post.

The next day, Trump will attend a fundraiser in Newport Beach, Calif., where the hosts include Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR. Then Trump will head to a luxury hotel in Las Vegas for a fundraiser with hosts including the hotel’s owner, Don Ahern, and its president, Shane McFarland. An invitation for the Las Vegas event gives top-tier recognition to those who give or raise $844,600 per couple.

In Arizona, meanwhile, the state Republican Party is inviting top supporters to take photos with Trump after his Thursday town hall at Dream City Church in Phoenix.

Besides remarks at Trump Tower in New York last Friday, Trump has yet to host a public event post-verdict and instead has been meeting with staff, attending fundraising dinners and filming his videos for social media this week, according to a person familiar with his activities. More than a dozen of the short clips were posted in quick succession on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, on Tuesday.

Biden’s campaign has sometimes needled Trump for not campaigning more, zeroing in on his penchant for golf. Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt responded by highlighting Biden’s vacation time and saying Trump is “working around the clock.”

Next Friday, on the evening of his birthday, Trump is set to give a speech at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, hosted by a Trump fan group called “Club 47 USA.” An advertisement notes that the birthday falls on Flag Day and depicts Trump hugging an American flag.

Throughout his first week as a felon, Trump has reiterated his criticisms of the New York proceedings. His lawyers this week asked the court to drop a gag order barring him from discussing witnesses and some other people related to the case. Trump’s team has repeatedly argued that, as a presidential candidate, he needs to publicly respond to damaging testimony.

For now, Trump has been ticking through the same criticisms he raised during the trial, focusing his ire on the judge and deep-blue Manhattan.

On Newsmax, he repeated his assertion that “Mother Teresa couldn’t get a fair trial here.”