MSNBC: Trump Campaign Is a Money Making Racket and Book Tour

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Credit: MSNBC

MSNBC Transcript:

Last night on this show, right at the end of the show, we reported on the 
new financial documents that the Donald Trump for president campaign had 
just reported to the FEC. We got – a little embarrassing, we got those 
numbers when I was live on the air.

And I really didn`t – we didn`t have time like as a staff to process them. 
I just read them from the raw report. Right after that raw report was 
posted on the FEC website while we were live on the air. I will tell you 
honestly, the reason I`m furrowing my brow in that footage is because while 
I was doing that breaking news story, I felt like maybe I had gotten it 
wrong, I felt like there was maybe a typo or a misunderstanding or maybe my vision`s going because I`m an old person now and I couldn`t see a decimal point I should have been expecting.

It just seemed impossible the Republican presidential nominee would have 
started the month of June with only $1 million cash on hand. That is a 
remarkably low number for any stage of any serious presidential race. I 
mean, for the month of May, that number is still, even in the light of day, 
almost impossible to believe.

Think about it. Donald Trump wrapped up the Republican nomination in the 
first week of May. He won Indiana on May 3rd. All of his opponents 
dropped out. He wrapped up the nomination on the third day the month. 
That means he had the whole rest of the month with no Republican primary to 
worry about, the only thing he had to do the whole month was start socking 
away money and preparing for the general election campaign against Hillary 

And he ended that whole month with $1 million?

The cash on hand numbers from the Donald Trump campaign that came in at the end of the show last night, those numbers were very hard to believe. But  now over the course of today, we`ve been able to go through not just cash on hand numbers and his fund-raising numbers, but also his spending 
numbers. And those are also amazing. But they tell a very different 
story. And we should probably not see them as so surprising because we`ve 
seen something like this before.

Over the course of the month of May, the Trump campaign spent a total of 
$6.7 million. More than $1 million of that was spent paying money to 
Donald Trump`s own companies and to members of his family. And that is 
apparently nothing new for the Donald Trump for president effort.

We now know that pattern has basically held for the entire campaign so far. 
If you want to look at the entire course of his campaign, “Washington Post” 
and “Associated Press” today totaled up over $60 million that has been 
spent by the Trump campaign, more than $6 million of that – so roughly 1 
in 10 dollars spent in total on the campaign, more than $6 million has been 
spent buying stuff from Donald Trump. He has spent an incredible 
proportion of his campaign funds writing, for example, rent checks to 
himself for use of his own properties. He paid the Trump International 
Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, $29,715. He paid the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida, $35,845.

You know, when Donald Trump lives in Florida, the place he lives is a golf 
club called Mar-a-Lago. That is Donald Trump`s house in Florida. His 
campaign paid over $400,000 to Donald Trump for use of his own house. He 
paid himself $400,000 for the privilege of using his own home.

He paid $520,000 to Trump Tower which is his home in New York. He paid 
$135,000 to Trump Restaurants. That`s a lot of taco bowls. He paid 
$26,000 to the Trump National Doral, which is his golf course in Miami. He 
paid $11,000 to his Trump Hotel in Chicago. He`s paid himself over $4 
million for the privilege of renting his own private jet.

The Trump Plaza, $99,000. The Trump Post Office which is his hotel in 
Washington that`s not yet built, $5,000. Trump Soho, just under $5,000. 
He paid his son`s Trump wine company just under $5,000.

He spent campaign money on the Trump Grill, on Trump Ice, Trump Ice is a 
thing? He spent Trump money at the Trump Cafe.

And part of the mainstream Republican beef with this data, right, with what 
we now know about how the Trump campaign is operating, is that these are 
not the kinds of expenditures you would expect to see from someone who`s 
actually running a campaign for president that intends to win the presidency. I mean, the expenses when you look at what the Trump campaign is actually spending their money on it`s more like a concert tour. It`s more like a promotional tour for a celebrity who`s hawking something than 
it is like a campaign where you need people to go out and vote for you in 

I mean, the biggest expenses are private jets, renting out venues, 
preferably ones where Mr. Trump gets to pay rent to himself for using that 
venue, and also swag. You know, you go to a concert, there`s the swag 
table? Merchandise is what the Trump campaign is spending its money on. 
Millions of dollars spent on Trump t-shirts and especially Trump hats. Oh 
the hats.

Reading through the list of Trump expenditures, I half expected to find 
that there was now a Trump hat company that they had formed in order to 
cash in on all the hat spending the Trump campaign has indulged in over the 
past year. In fact, there is no Trump hat company. But there is this nice 
lady who sits on the board of Eric Trump`s charitable foundation. She also 
happens to run the hat company, getting all those millions of dollars in 
Trump campaign expenditures.

So, the polite way to say this is, it`s a racket. It`s not designed to 
necessarily win the election. I don`t know if it would be necessarily a 
problem to win the election. Think about the merchandising opportunities 
in the Oval Office.

But if he does end up winning, you can tell from the way the campaign is 
being run, you can tell because we`ve seen lots of campaigns like this 
before, you can tell that winning might happen. But it`s not the aim. It 
would be a byproduct of what is the principal effort, which is to make 

Donald Trump is not the first person to do this. This is what Newt 
Gingrich did in 2012. Frankly, it`s easier to do on the Republican side 
because of the monetizing of Republican and conservative political 
celebrity thanks to FOX News and lots of scammy right-wing media outlets in 
this country. That`s part of the reason why Republican presidential fields 
are so big these days.

I defy you to tell me what the job is of Rick Santorum. What is his job 
other than running for president? What`s Herman Cain`s job? What`s 
Michele Bachmann`s job? What`s Mike Huckabee`s job?

They`re all either making a living running for president, or they`re making 
a living thereafter off the fact that they did run for president once and 
therefore you`ve heard of them. It`s a racket.

The real question for the country – I mean, that`s a question for the 
conservative movement and the Republican Party and conservative media, 
right? Like what have we created? A weird system of incentives where 
people appear to run for office, but mostly they run for office as a job 
because it helps them make merchandising money and get deals on FOX News, right? I mean, that`s an issue for the Republican Party, the conservative movement, conservative media in general.

Put that aside. The real question for the rest of us, for the country, is 
whether what we`re now looking at on the presidential level, now that one 
of these guys is their nominee, the real question for the country is 
whether this book tour, this promotional tour for this political celebrity, 
might accidentally produce a presidential candidacy that can actually win. 
And that remains to be seen.

But honestly, these new spending numbers put to rest any question that what we are witnessing is anything other than a promotional book tour which we should have realized from the very beginning because this is what it 
sounded like from the very beginning.

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