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GOP megadonors activate Trump, seek other options after Jan. 6 hearings

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A video of former U.S. President Donald Trump from his January sixth Rose Garden statement is played as Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows throughout the Trump administration, testifies during House Select Committee a public hearing to analyze the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the Capitol, in Washington, June 28, 2022.

Shawn Thew | Pool | Reuters

Support from a number of the Republican Party’s biggest donors for a 2024 White House run by former President Donald Trump is dwindling, especially after damaging latest details of his actions on Jan. 6, 2021, were revealed at a hearing Tuesday by the House select committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Republican financiers and their advisors have been privately meeting for the reason that committee began to release the initial findings of its probe in a series of public hearings earlier this month, in keeping with interviews with top GOP fundraisers who’ve helped the party raise tens of millions of dollars. Most people asked to not be named because they didn’t need to provoke retribution from Trump or his allies.

The people have been discussing the November midterms and who they will support in 2024. One name that does not often get brought up as a possible presidential candidate is Trump, these people explained.

“Donors are very concerned that Trump is the one Republican who can lose in 2024,” Eric Levine, an attorney and longtime GOP fundraiser, said after the hearing Tuesday featuring testimony from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson. “I believe donors were already moving away from Trump,” he noted. Levine is co-hosting a fundraising event for the Trump-endorsed former TV host and current Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz in Recent York in September, in keeping with an invite reviewed by CNBC.

For Trump, it’s the same theme to his first run for president. At the moment, many corporate business leaders backed other Republican candidates like Jeb Bush early on within the race only later to back Trump when it was obvious he was going to capture the nomination.

‘The silence is deafening’

An individual near a number of the biggest real estate executives in Recent York who backed Trump during each of his runs for the White House said this time is different. Their view is he’s taken “major hits” throughout the Jan. 6 hearings. None from that group are coming to defend him, a minimum of for now.

“The silence is deafening,” this person added.

The shortage of interest in Trump by a number of the wealthiest Republican donors could boost fundraising efforts for other GOP presidential hopefuls. Multiple Republicans could run in 2024, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. and Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. Scott is up for reelection in 2022 but recently headlined an event in Iowa, a key state for candidates running for president. Cotton reportedly has huddled with donors to debate a possible 2024 run.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks on the Conservative Political Motion Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 24, 2022.

Marco Bello | Reuters

The previous president has not publicly ruled out running for the White House again in two years after losing to President Joe Biden in 2020. Despite a scarcity of support from corporate leaders, Trump has maintained a large campaign war chest thanks largely to small-dollar donors.

His political motion committee, Save America, had over a $100 million available going into June, in keeping with the newest Federal Election Commission filing. Trump’s affiliated super PAC Make America Great Again, Again saw support from a small group of rich donors in May, including $150,000 from real estate mogul Geoffrey Palmer and $250,000 from David Frecka, the founding father of Next Generation Movies. The super PAC raised over $770,000 in May.

Trump’s fundraising success

Taylor Budowich, a spokesman for Trump, boasted in regards to the former president’s record on endorsing GOP candidates and their fundraising success.

“President Trump’s endorsement record stands at 146-10, his Save America political committee continues to boost unprecedented amounts of cash and the American people remain hungry for his leadership,” Budowich said. “And as one other witch hunt is blowing up within the faces of Democrats, President Trump is in a stronger position now than at anytime before.”

Still, some potential Republican candidates have already been gathering enough donations that show they’ll compete against Trump’s political juggernaut in the event that they were to run for president.

DeSantis raised just over $10 million in May for his 2022 reelection bid for governor. That brought his total fundraising haul in the present election cycle to over $120 million, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Meanwhile, Pence has been meeting with political donors as he lays the groundwork for a possible 2024 run. Trump has criticized his former No. 2 for certifying the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, as rioters called for him to be hanged.

Pence fundraiser

Pence spoke to the Recent York State Conservative Party last week, with tickets going for as much as $5,000 per person, in keeping with an invite reviewed by CNBC. He’s also set to satisfy with dozens of donors at a non-public retreat in Montana in September, in keeping with an individual briefed on the matter. A Pence political advisor confirmed the retreat will happen in support of the previous vice chairman’s 501(c)(4), Advancing American Freedom.

On this image from video, Vice President Mike Pence speaks because the Senate reconvenes after protesters stormed into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

Senate Television via AP

“There shall be a mixture of major donors, conservative thought leaders and elected officials,” this advisor said. “The main focus shall be on the work AAF is doing, plans to affect policy issues necessary to midterms and a bigger discussion on the agenda for the conservative movement.”

The group recently launched a video that celebrated the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Just like a campaign style ad, it also highlighted Pence’s positions on abortion and his role in advising Trump on selecting Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The ad notably doesn’t mention Trump by name.

Hutchinson testimony

The testimony by Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s then-chief of staff Mark Meadows, was one among many recent breaking points for Republican megadonors who were waiting to choose whether to assist Trump again, in keeping with the individuals who helped in past campaigns.

Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows throughout the administration of former U.S. President Donald Trump, testifies during a public hearing of the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol, on the Capitol, in Washington, June 28, 2022.

Andrew Harnik | Pool | Reuters

Hutchinson delivered a number of the Jan. 6 committee’s most explosive testimony to this point. She said she was told Trump lunged at a Secret Service agent after his security detail refused to take the previous president to the U.S. Capitol to satisfy protestors who later rioted within the halls of Congress. Trump and his allies have tried to discredit her claims. The previous president took to Truth Social to distance himself from Hutchinson, saying he barely knew her.

A Republican fundraiser, who actively raised money for Trump and the Republican National Committee in 2020, told CNBC after Tuesday’s hearing, “I do not think any major donor with business interests would support a Trump presidential run after today’s hearing.” That person said they would not feel comfortable, based on these findings, working for Trump’s campaign again or raising money for one more presidential run.

A few of Trump’s business supporters had already disappeared from his corner immediately after the Jan. 6 attack. Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone, who openly supported Trump’s policies when he was president, said after the riot that he felt “betrayed” by him.

Trump had a bevy of huge name GOP backers, including members of the Mercer family, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, casino magnates Miriam Adelson and her late husband Sheldon Adelson and Wall Street executive Nelson Peltz. A lot of those donors supported Trump in 2016 because the Republican primary got here to a detailed and later his 2020 reelection bid.

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