Big: Trump says he's forgiven the $50 million in loans he made to the campaign

Critics have been nudging him to cut a check to his campaign for nine figures to prove to wary donors that he’s invested in winning, not just out to make bank and take the media on a five-month joyride. Here’s the equivalent of a check for eight figures. Is that good enough? And is more on the way?

This is the single best thing he could have done to jumpstart his fundraising, unless and until he dumps $100 million into his campaign coffers. It’s no small concession either if you view the loans relative to his liquidity rather than his overall fortune. By his own accounting, as of last year, he had somewhere between $60 and $180 million in liquid assets. $50 million is now gone. There’s your answer, perhaps, to the question of whether more is on the way. There might not be a lot more, at least at the moment, that Trump can easily reach.

Donald J. Trump has just announced he has honored the pledge he made on May 13, 2016, when he stated, “I have absolutely no intention of paying myself back for the nearly $50 million dollars I have loaned to the campaign. This money is a contribution made in order to ‘Make America Great Again.”

Mr. Trump has fully extinguished (terminated) this loan per his commitment. Therefore, he has personally invested in excess of $50 million dollars in the future of our country. Unlike the all talk, no action politicians that have failed the American people for far too long, Mr. Trump is not beholden to the special interests that have corrupted Washington, D.C. Mr. Trump will continue to put America and our people first.

His campaign’s finance chair, Steve Mnuchin, confirmed the debt forgiveness in an interview with CNBC this morning. If you’re a megarich Republican, one good reason to hold out on Trump until now was the suspicion that the campaign would cash your check, continue to run on a shoestring budget, lose badly this fall, and then use your donation to repay Trump, with interest, on the $50 million in loans he made. You and the dozens of friends you’ve bundled for him might collectively be out several million bucks with nothing to show for it except the satisfaction that Donald J. Trump didn’t take a financial hit personally from running this year. Now that he’s forgiven the loans, you can donate with more confidence that your money really will be applied to beating Hillary. Unless, that is, Trump makes new loans to the campaign going forward and doesn’t forgive those. Will he pledge to stick to outright donations from here on out?

Another possible reason to hold out on donating, if you’re a strong-form #NeverTrumper like George Will, is that starving him of donations might be the surest way to trigger a “Dump Trump” revolt in Cleveland:

In Trump, Republicans have someone whose reputation is continental only in being broadly known. He illustrates Daniel Boorstin’s definition of a celebrity as someone well-known for his well-knownness. It will be wonderful if Trump tries to translate notoriety into fulfillment of his vow — as carefully considered as anything else about his candidacy — to carry New York and California. He should be taunted into putting his meager campaign funds where his ample mouth is. Every dime or day he squanders on those states will contribute to a redemptive outcome, a defeat so humiliating — so continental — that even Republicans will be edified by it.

Trump’s campaign has less cash ($1.3 million) than some congressional candidates have, so Republican donors have never been more important than they are at this moment. They can save their party by not aiding its nominee.

The only thing I can think of more likely to cleave the party in two than ousting Trump at the convention is ousting Trump at the convention because the party’s country-clubbers have made it clear with their checkbooks that they want it that way. That’s not to say it’s not worth doing for moral reasons. It is to say that, if you do it, you’re kissing off millions of populists by handing Trump a narrative that the GOP’s explicitly doing the bidding of the rich in taking him down.

Here’s Mnuchin answering questions about Trump’s lack of organization by talking up how well-staffed the RNC is across the country. Right, but the presidential race isn’t the RNC’s only concern. They need to win down-ballot too, and the more persistently Trump trails Clinton, the more pressure they’ll feel to reassign some of their staffers who are working on Trump’s race to more winnable congressional races. This is why it’s important for candidates to build their own campaigns, see. It’s nice to have a staff that’s working for you and only you. Mnuchin, by the way, used to work at Goldman Sachs, a favorite whipping boy of populists, especially lefty populists. Another whipping boy of lefties, Donald Rumsfeld, endorsed Trump today and was thanked warmly by Trump on Twitter despite Trump forever straining to convince people that he was a fierce critic of the Iraq war. It seems we’ve reached the all-hands-on-deck stage of the campaign where the candidate will happily accept support from anyone willing to offer it, even if it undercuts his core message. Oh well.

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Jazz Shaw 5:01 PM on March 22, 2023