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My Friend, Donald Trump

What it’s like being so special to the former president that he constantly reaches out to you for help.
June 3, 2022
My Friend, Donald Trump
(Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Donald Trump writes to me often, usually several times a day. The president, as he calls himself—none of that “former” business—wants me to know how much he values me as a “trusted ally.” He is forever offering me exciting opportunities, like the chance for my name to be “permanently engraved” on the “Official 2022 Trump Donor Wall” in his office. All I need to do for this to happen is contribute $45 by midnight.

“Space is extremely limited,” the president warned. “This could be your only chance.”

President Trump is always looking out for me that way. He has told me countless times that I must act quickly because time is running out. He’s been saying that about the Donor Wall since he first brought it up, weeks ago. Since then, he’s given me a generous number of only chances.

The president and others in his inner circle, including Donald Jr., have also sent me multiple limited-time offers to have my name appear on his birthday card. I’ve been given about ten “last chances” to do this since mid-May, including one from Jr. that promised me “priority access to sign my father’s Official Birthday Card before ANYONE ELSE.” I missed all of these chances. But, who knows, maybe there will be others before his actual birthday on June 14?

The emails from Donald Jr. are often quite personal. “He’s asking about you,” he confided to me recently. “Can I tell my father you stepped up?” He added: “My father wants to see an updated donor list first thing tomorrow morning. I want him to know that he has your support 100%.” I wonder how that conversation went.

Other emails have offered me opportunities to buy an ULTRAMAGA t-shirt, inspired by Joe Biden’s crack about the “ultra-MAGA agenda,” or an “Official Trump Gold Card,” which appears to be an actual plastic gold card with the donor’s name and “member number” on it. (It is unclear if the gold cards will carry forward member numbers from last fall’s “Official Trump Cards,” which were red.) All are available for just $45.

But only if I act before 11:59 p.m. Otherwise, I am just going to have to wait until the following day.

I’m not sure how I got on President Trump’s email list, but I do know I have never given him a dime. That hasn’t dissuaded him in the least. Over the two-week period that ended May 28, the president and his team sent me at least 166 emails, including seven that declare “This is it. We won’t email you again.” At least one of these demanded payment within an hour.

This has been going on for years.

All of these messages ask for money, but with different enticements. In the two weeks under review, I was offered a chance to be the president’s guest of honor at an “exclusive vip event”; to meet and have dinner with him, courtesy of Elise for Congress; and to claim a “Free Gift” for being one of his “TOP supporters”—all I had to do was “contribute $12 to cover shipping.” Where’s my credit card?

The president in these messages always stresses how important I am to him, which is why he is forever soliciting my advice.

“While the Radical Left and Lamestream Media are working overtime to turn the Nation against me, it’s important that you know that I’ve never cared what they think,” he wrote in an email asking me to take an important survey. “I only care what you think, Friend.”

He cares enough to send me surveys to figure out just what, exactly, I do think. A recent example includes questions like “Do you believe Joe Biden needs to put the safety of Americans FIRST and finish the Southern Border Wall?”; “Do you believe the mainstream media needs to be held accountable for biased reporting?”; “Do you believe the Democrats should call off the witch hunts on President Trump, his family, and his administration?” You can answer “Yes,” “No,” or “Unsure.” How could anybody be unsure?

In another survey the president asked me to take, the focus was on his agenda. “Do you agree that Democrats are ruining America?” it asked. Liturgically, it continued:

  • “Do you agree that far-Left Democrats, like the SQUAD, are a threat to America?”
  • “Do you agree RINOs who betrayed President Trump must be voted out?”
  • “Do you agree CRT is racist?”
  • “Do you agree the Democrat-backed plan of defunding the police was terrible?”
  • “Do you agree vaccine mandates are unconstitutional?”

The president and his allies are forever rolling out time-sensitive opportunities for me to have my donations matched by 600 percent. He’s gone as high as 1,000 percent, but only if I gave within an hour. “I want to see an updated list of donors who choose to step up at this critical time,” he told me. “I’ll be disappointed if your name ISN’T on there.” It wasn’t.

In addition to asking for my counsel, President Trump sometimes attempts to communicate with me through covert means, as good friends sometimes do. On May 18, he offered me a chance to hear a “SECRET video message” that he recorded just for me. “The wait is over,” he told me, assuring me that he was “NOT lying” about the secret message. He wrote: “This video message is only intended for YOU, Friend, so I need you to promise me that you WILL NOT share this with ANYONE.” All I had to do to “unlock” this secret video message was to give a donation of any amount by midnight. I left the secret message locked.

A different secret video message sent a week later required that I respond within the next five minutes. Yet another was explicit about what would happen if I didn’t act in time: “This video will self-delete in 15 minutes.” That I’d like to see.

One message said it was raising money for a Protect Our Elections Fund to “prevent future election fraud.” But if you look at the fine print, it doesn’t say anything about there being a designated fund. The money from this solicitation goes to the same place as for all these appeals: 90 percent to the ​Save America Joint Fundraising Committee and 10 percent to the Make America Great Again PAC, or MAGAPac.

Between January 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, according to the Federal Election Commission, the Save America Joint Fundraising Committee raised $90 million in contributions. None were from me, one of the president’s most trusted advisers. During this same period, the committee reported disbursements totaling $83.7 million. These included $35.3 million in “operating expenditures” and $48.4 million in transfers to “affiliated committees.”

Last month, the Federal Election Commission deadlocked 3-3 on whether to hold the Trump campaign accountable for allegedly funneling hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from people who respond to appeals like the ones the president sends me. This money, it said, went to largely untraceable destinations, including Trump family members, through a shell company called American Made Media Consultants, which the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, helped create. The three votes against—cast by the commission’s three Republican members—mean that no action will be taken.

Neither the president nor his son have said a word to me about any of this. Perhaps they addressed it in one of those secret video messages. But every day brings fresh opportunities.

Bill Lueders

Bill Lueders, former editor and now editor-at-large of The Progressive, is a writer in Madison, Wisconsin.