Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is interviewed by investor John Paulson at the Economic Club of New York luncheon in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 15, 2016

Mike Segar | Reuters

Veteran investor John Paulson has called allies on Wall Street to make the case that it’s time to help Donald Trump become president again.

“My message is that we need to unite and stand behind President Trump. There is only one candidate that can lead us in the right direction,” he told CNBC on Monday.

“It’s important to put personal differences aside and focus on what’s important: protecting our borders, immigration, crime, education, the economy, trade, and foreign policy,” said Paulson.

The hedge fund founder is hosting a splashy fundraising dinner for Trump April 6 at his house in Palm Beach, Florida. But Paulson is not the only GOP kingmaker who is privately gearing up to help Trump.

Republican megadonor Rebekah Mercer was spotted earlier this month at a private party with other Trump allies in Palm Beach, according to a person familiar with the matter. Her attendance raised eyebrows because she and her father, Robert Mercer, have publicly distanced themselves from the former president since 2018.

Nonetheless, friends of the Mercers say they are expecting the two Republican donors to play a critical role for Trump this year with potential future fundraising events and major donations to pro-Trump political action committees. Representatives for the Mercers did not respond to a request for comment.

These efforts are the latest signs of a bigger project underway: Trump and his inner circle are cobbling together a small but wealthy group of financiers to help him raise money for both his campaign and a political action committee paying his legal bills.

“It’s the old cast coming back together to take it across the finish line,” said an advisor to one of Trump’s bundlers. This advisor and others were granted anonymity to describe private conversations.

Many of these “old cast” members are business leaders who have been close to Trump for years. They were also some of the earliest corporate executives to back his successful 2016 presidential campaign. At the time, plenty of traditional GOP donors were hesitant to align themselves with the brash New York billionaire.

Billionaires Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah attend the 12th International Conference on Climate Change hosted by The Heartland Institute on March 23, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Oliver Contreras | The Washington Post | Getty Images

A night to remember

At least 50 people are expected to attend the April dinner at Paulson’s house, according to people familiar with the matter.

Other Trump allied co-chairs for the fundraising dinner include Rebekah Mercer, her father Robert Mercer, Chicago Cubs co-owner and former RNC finance chair Todd Ricketts, former Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, former Trump administrator of the Small Business Administration Linda McMahon and Trump’s U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Woody Johnson, who also owns the New York Jets, according to an invitation obtained by NBC News.

Ticket prices start at $250,000 per person, and go up to $814,600 per guest, according to the invitation.

If 50 people go to the Paulson event and each pay the top ticket price of $814,600, the Trump 47 Committee could raise at least $40 million from this one fundraiser alone.

Paulson would not say how much the event has raised or how many people will attend. “The donor response has been overwhelmingly positive. There is strong support amongst all income levels,” he told CNBC.

The money raised on April 6 will go to the Trump 47 Committee, a newly created joint fundraising committee that benefits Trump’s presidential campaign, his Save America PAC that helps pay Trump’s legal bills, and the Republican National Committee.

Potential donors are being pitched the idea that the fundraiser at Paulson’s house is an “inaugural” event, with more scheduled in the future that will feature some of the same hosts, said a co-chair of the April reception.

“We want to come together as a community and get galvanized for the next six to eight months,” said another co-chair.

The national finance director of Trump’s presidential campaign, Meredith O’Rourke, has also been wooing donors to come, according to an adviser to one of the the event’s co-chairs.

As for the money going to pay Trump’s legal bills, at least some of the people attending the Paulson event don’t seem to care.

“I know some of them want to help on that score,” a person close to attendees explained, when asked whether donors are hesitant to finance a PAC that pays Trump’s legal fees.

“No one should be prosecuted because of their political views,” Paulson told CNBC, when asked whether he cares that the money he’s raising is going to Save America.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits with his lawyer Susan Necheles, in the courtroom at a hearing in his criminal case on charges stemming from hush money paid to a porn star in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2024. 

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Trump badly needs the money

This burgeoning alliance of major players in Republican fundraising may arrive just in time for Trump.

With eight months left in the 2024 presidential election, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee faces a barrage of financial headwinds.

The first is his struggle to raise more campaign cash. Trump’s campaign lagged behind President Joe Biden in fundraising in February according to the most recent campaign finance reports. Biden’s campaign raised just over $21 million last month, with Trump bringing in about $10 million over that same time period.

Next, there is the skepticism Trump is encountering from several key Republican donors. Several of them are concerned he might use their money to help pay his own extensive legal fees than the GOP at large.

Lastly, there are Trump’s legal sagas. The former president is facing dozens of criminal counts in federal and state cases. His political action committees have responded to by spending tens of millions of dollars in donor contributions to pay private lawyers defending Trump.

Trump is also fighting several massive penalties in civil court cases. He recently posted a bond for $91 million to appeal the verdict in his rape defamation case. On Monday, Trump is expected to reveal whether he can meet the day’s deadline to post a bond for more than $450 million in an unrelated civil fraud case.

Save America spent around $5.6 million on legal bills in February alone, more than the committee raised in total that month, according to Federal Election Commission records. Heading into March, the PAC reported about $4 million on hand.

If the Paulson dinner were to raise $40 million, $330,000 of that would be shared with Trump’s primary and general election accounts. Another $250,000 would go to Save America.

The rest would be broken out to the RNC and almost two dozen state parties. The RNC would receive $16.5 million, and the rest would go to the state groups.

RNC co-chair Lara Trump and other Republican leaders have been adamant that the committee will not pay for Trump’s legal bills.

But that seems to represent a shift for Trump’s daughter-in-law. Before she ascended to her new position at the RNC, she suggested the committee should pay for Trump’s legal bills.

Don’t miss these stories from CNBC PRO:



Source link