Trump's campaign emails more panicked during his Manhattan trial

In a recent fundraising email, Trump declared that he is being held “hostage”

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published May 2, 2024 5:45AM (EDT)

Former U.S. President Donald Trump (C) prepares to testify during his trial in New York State Supreme Court on November 06, 2023 in New York City. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Donald Trump (C) prepares to testify during his trial in New York State Supreme Court on November 06, 2023 in New York City. (David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

President Biden and Donald Trump are trying to win over two very different publics with their respective campaigns. What story is President Biden telling in his fundraising and other campaign emails? Biden’s emails are calm, reasonable, factual and emphasize actual policy achievements and a positive vision while still communicating the historic nature of the 2024 election. Given Biden’s temperament, experience and mature leadership, such an approach is to be expected and makes sense.

And in what is almost a parody of the nice, sane, and normal politics that President Biden is modeling for his voters and other supporters, he recently announced a contest where one of his donors could win an ice cream date with him and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

Biden’s respectable communications style is both a strength and a weakness: his campaign emails are often so calm that they risk not communicating the extreme dangerousness of Dictator Trump and what will happen if he and his MAGA movement take power in 2025. President Biden sometimes raises his metaphorical voice in his campaign emails, but he needs to be screaming much louder and much more frequently. Ice cream dates will likely be no match against an opposition that is offering a political version of a steel cage death match and the terror dome.

To that point, what story is Donald Trump telling his voters, donors, and other supporters?

His fundraising and other campaign emails are a relentless onslaught designed to create fear and terror about a doomed and ruined America that is being destroyed from within by “vermin” i.e. the Democrats, liberals, non-white people, Muslims, George Soros, the Deep State, “woke”, “Black Lives Matter,” President Obama and Hillary Clinton, those who are not White Christians, the evil “news media” that are in league with nebulous forces to turn the country into a Stalinist-Maoist-Communist hellhole equipped with gulags and prisons where the MAGA people, "real Americans” (meaning White people), and their Dear Leader Trump will be imprisoned.

Compared to President Biden and the Democrats, Trump’s emails are thrilling, exciting, and a type of horror movie made real. Trump and his spokespeople know their supporters’ anxieties and pain points and are adept at triggering them.

With the beginning of Trump’s first criminal trial in New York, his emails have only become more extreme – and will only continue to – as the 2024 election and potentially three other criminal trials are closing in on him.

For example, in this recent fundraising email, Trump declared that he is being held “hostage”:

I’m being held hostage!



What Biden is doing is a blatant WITCH HUNT and an absolute SHAME. Making me sit in court every day when I should be FIGHTING FOR AMERICA.

Now is the time to help me SAVE AMERICA, chip in NOW 

Everybody knows this is ELECTION INTERFERENCE orchestrated by Crooked Joe.




So, Friend, I need to know while my name is being DRAGGED through the mud every day, that I still have you by my side.

Because I know with your support, we will peacefully TAKE BACK THE WHITE HOUSE.

I’m counting on every MAGA Patriot to chip in and say: END THE WITCH HUNT! 

Trump’s claims of being a hostage are part of a much larger pattern of victimhood: at his rallies and other events he has elevated his Jan. 6 MAGA terrorists to the level of political prisoners and hostages as well.

On Monday, Trump told his followers that “All Hell Will Break Loose” from the court hearing in Manhattan that Judge Juan Merchan convened in response to the corrupt ex-president’s repeated threats against the judges, their family members, jurors, witnesses, and the other people who are trying to hold him accountable for his alleged crimes under the law.



Friend, in 24 hours, the hearing on my GAG ORDER will begin.


This is what the Hate-America Deep State has always dreamed of.


I won’t be able to campaign.

I will be muzzled and silent.

And Democrats will have free rein to destroy our country.

We need a HUGE outpouring of support before the day is over, because tomorrow, all hell could break loose for our MAGA Movement.

“Hell” did not break loose after Donald Trump’s hearing on Tuesday. Judge Merchan plainly and forcefully told Trump and his legal team that the threats and other bad behavior must stop or there will be serious consequences.

In this recent email, Donald Trump says his constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech is being taken away:

A highly conflicted “judge” has erased my constitutional rights.


Democrats want to throw me in prison and silence me FOR GOOD, but only because of YOUR SUPPORT, our campaign is alive.

I would be nothing without you in my corner - THANK YOU!

In a post on his Truth Social disinformation platform, Trump made similar claims.

We need your help to stay independent

Instead of an ice cream date, Donald Trump is inviting his most loyal MAGA people to some type of love festival/support group at his Mar-a-Lago resort headquarters to meet with him before President Biden and the Democrats have him locked away:

Friend, before they lock me up….

Radical Left Democrats want to TAKE EVERYTHING FROM ME, but they’ll never take YOU!

And to show my appreciation for your unwavering support in the face of Crooked Joe’s RELENTLESS attacks, I’m inviting you to be my special guest at Mar-a-Lago.

Hosting one of my beloved supporters during this dark time would mean SO MUCH TO ME.

It gives me something to look forward to while I’m sitting in BIDEN’S SHAM TRIAL.

This could be your LAST CHANCE to tour Mar-a-Lago, Friend. Enter to meet me there BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Of course, Donald Trump is lying. There is no substantive evidence to support his fabulist conspiratorial delusions-fantasies of persecution and other harm. The corrupt ex-president is in no way a victim, except perhaps of his own apparent sociopathy if not outright psychopathy, and other parts of his obviously diseased mind.

As I am writing this essay, Donald Trump sent out another fundraising email. This time, Trump is (again) threatening President Biden with jail for committing the “crime” of opposing him and the neofascist MAGA movement:




Now is the time to help me SAVE AMERICA and chip in

The White House is currently occupied by the most CORRUPT, INCOMPETENT, AND WORST president in American history - BY FAR!

Crooked Joe is using his ENDLESS witch hunts against me to hide his many ACTUAL CRIMES, including illegally peddling influence to Foreign Countries.

So before I spend another day in court fighting the BIDEN HOAX, I need to hear from YOU:


>> YES <<

>> NO <<

The White House THUGS are coming after me to hide their CRIMES, but it will never work!

As long as YOU are by my side, we will EXPOSE their corruption and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Donald Trump is always selling something. In an unintentionally funny recent fundraising email, Trump brags about a personalized doormat where you can literally step on “Make America Great Again” and “Trump 2024” each time you enter and leave your home. As Trump says in the email, “Nothing warms my heart like seeing true MAGA Patriots display their AMERICAN MADE 2024 Trump Doormats.”

The main goal of President Biden and Donald Trump’s fundraising emails is to get money to win the 2024 election. For Trump, the other important goal is to get enough money to pay his approximately 500 million dollars in fines and legal expenses. Given his pattern of behavior, Donald Trump will also take the money he received from his followers for his own personal use, i.e. put it in his pocket.

By these criteria, how effective have Biden and Trump’s fundraising emails been?

President Biden and the Democrats, at this point in the campaign, have raised much more money than Donald Trump and the Republicans. They also have much more momentum in terms of fundraising and building out their campaign infrastructure than Trump and the Republicans, as Reuters reported:

There are early warning signs that Trump's small-donor base may be flagging, suggesting Trump may have to rely more heavily on major donors ahead of the Nov. 5 rematch against Biden.

The biggest fundraising group collecting money for his campaign - known as the Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee - reported on Monday that it raised $33.6 million in the first quarter from donors who gave $200 or less.

That was about $17 million less than the amount raised from small donors at the same point in the 2020 election cycle by Trump's main fundraising group at the time, the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, according to a Reuters review of disclosures filed to the Federal Election Commission.

Small donors have historically been crucial funders of Trump's presidential campaigns, and last year they helped Trump raise $13 million in donations in the week after his indictment in the New York case.

But, after initial fundraising spikes off the back of early court appearances last year, donations have slowed as charges accumulated in more cases.

A degree of "Trump fatigue" appears to have set in after nine years of the former real estate tycoon blasting out near-daily overtures for cash, said Zachary Albert, a politics professor at Brandeis University who has studied small donors.

"He's been fairly unscrupulous in his appeals," said Albert. "The norm is to treat these small donors as cash cows that you squeeze as much as you can, as often as you can."

Still, Albert expects an uptick in donations during the trial as the campaign seeks to capitalize on supporters' sentiment that Trump is being unfairly tried.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for details on its fundraising strategy. It is due on Saturday to report on its finances through March.

Trump's campaign reported raising $10.9 million February, well below the $21.3 million that Biden's reported raising.

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In an April 1 news story titled, “How Republicans texted and emailed their way into a money problem”, the Washington Post offered the following context, which includes a pathetic detail about MAGA people apologizing for not being able to give their Dear Leader more of their money:

In the years after Donald Trump lost the presidency to Joe Biden, Trump sent so many emails and text messages asking for money that Republican consultants warned his mailing lists could become useless. The former president’s friends told him that they were being asked for too much, too often, and Trump himself ordered aides at one point to slow the solicitations. Some of his fans, pockets emptied, mailed handwritten letters apologizing for not being able to give more.

Now, as Trump and Biden prepare for a rematch, Trump’s vaunted small-dollar fundraising operation is not bringing in as much money as it once did.

In 2020, Trump and his fundraising committees raised a record $626.6 million from small-dollar donors, 35 percent more than Biden took in from that group.

But last year, Trump raised just $51 million from small donors, way down from the $119 million he registered in 2019 and only 18 percent more than Biden’s total. His small-dollar haul — which includes donations of $200 or less — was not nearly enough to offset Biden’s lead among major donors.

The Republican National Committee also raised much less money from small-dollar donors in 2023 than it had in 2019, contributing to budget problems for the party. Officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee were shocked by the low returns on their investment in the strategy ahead of the last midterm elections.

Why are Donald Trump and his bagmen (and bagwomen) falling short in their efforts to raise (more) money? The Washington Post explains:

More than two dozen people across the Trump campaign, Republican fundraising committees and private firms spoke to The Washington Post to discuss the decline in the Republican Party’s small-dollar fundraising. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal matters.

“The biggest problem in GOP fundraising is that we don’t treat donors well,” said John Hall, a Republican small-dollar fundraiser who runs the digital firm Apex Strategies. “Sending eight emails and texts a day that promise an artificial match, threaten to take away your GOP membership, or call you a traitor if you don’t donate doesn’t build a long-term relationship with donors.”

What will Donald Trump and his campaign advisors likely do in response to these failures?

They will need to find a way to trigger more fear, pain, discomfort, terror, and other negative emotions among the MAGA people and other prospective Trump donors and voters. Those negative emotions will be the motivation for giving a literal form of protection money to Donald Trump and the MAGA leadership.

What will this look like? More white supremacy and nativism and resulting fearmongering about the “border crisis” and an “invasion” by non-white people. There will also likely be an attempt to create a conspiracy that connects the protests at America’s elite universities and colleges against Israel’s war in Gaza to some greatly exaggerated threat from “Muslim terrorists” and “Radical Islam” here in the United States. And almost certainly, Donald Trump and his propagandists will greatly amplify their Hitler and Nazi talk about human “vermin” who are “poisoning the blood” of the United States and how the 2024 Election is a type of final cataclysmic battle where President Biden and the Democrats and “the left” must be eradicated to save (White) America and its future.

Ultimately, President Biden and Donald Trump are speaking very different political languages and communicating with two very different Americas. We “the Americans” are so fundamentally divided that the problems that led to the country’s democracy crisis and the birth of the neofascist MAGA movement will continue long past the 2024 election, even if President Biden defeats Donald Trump for a second time.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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