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How Donald Trump raised money in the days after the election and other takeaways from campaign filings

This chart below compares individual contributions of more than $200 to Trump-aligned committees with those aligned with President-elect Joe Biden. Trump donors kept giving and giving, particularly immediately following Election Day on November 3.

Trump’s campaign account alone reported $183 million in receipts between October 15 and November 23, the period covered by the most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission.

That’s more than twice the $86 million that Trump took in and the $88 million President Barack Obama reported raising in the post-election reports they filed after their winning campaigns in 2016 and 2012, according to statistics from the non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute.

“If you looked at these numbers after the fact — not knowing who had won or lost — you’d think Trump had won,” said Brendan Glavin, a senior data analyst with the Institute.

As CNN has reported, Trump has already teased another run in 2024. At a recent Christmas gathering, he talked to attendees about spending another four years in the White House, whether that starts in January 2021 or 2025.

Despite a losing streak at the courts, Trump has refused to concede that he has lost to Biden.

Thursday’s filings also show that roughly $873,000 from five committees affiliated with Trump went to Trump properties and businesses since October 15, including for lodging at the President’s hotels and renting space at Trump Tower.

Donald Trump, Jr., the President’s son, also received about $1,550 from Trump Victory for travel reimbursements.

Speaking of recounts…

Trump’s campaign reported spending about $8.8 million on recount-related expenses over the fundraising period, including $2.6 million for legal consulting.

Biden’s campaign didn’t report any expenses specifically tied to recounts. The Trump campaign paid 52 different law firms, lawyers, and consulting companies for recount-related legal consulting — including $30,000 to Jenna Ellis. Ellis, a former prosecutor from Colorado who has become a public face for the campaign’s efforts to cast doubt on voting integrity.

There were no reports of direct payments to Rudy Giuliani or Sidney Powell, two other lawyers who have been involved with legal proceedings. The campaign has since parted ways with Powell.

The largest recount-related expense — and one of the campaign’s biggest single payments in the weeks after Election Day — was a $3 million wire transfer to the Wisconsin Elections Commission to pay for the recount the campaign requested in the state’s two most populous counties.

The recount ended up increasing Biden’s margin by 87 votes. The Trump campaign is currently contesting the Wisconsin results in court.

Other high-profile Trump-world figures also got paid in the weeks after Election Day.

Corey Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager during the 2016 election, received about $2,860 for an “event reimbursement” on November 5, the day he headlined a bombastic press conference outside the vote-counting center in Philadelphia.

Biden’s haul

Biden raised plenty in his winning bid for the presidency, taking in more than $112 million between October 15 and November 23, the new filings show.

He spent that and more — burning through more than $272 million on his way to the White House. The bulk went to advertising.

But his campaign also spent nearly $880,000 to help retire the leftover campaign debts from running mate Kamala Harris’ short-lived presidential bid.

Lady Gaga performs in support of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden during a drive-in campaign rally at Heinz Field on November 2, 2020 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Biden and Harris ended the campaign with high-profile concerts by Lady Gaga and John Legend in the key battleground state of Pennsylvania. It came with a price tag: The campaign paid to $144,600 for transportation costs to Lady Gaga’s company, Mermaid Touring.

Money madness

The 2020 Senate contests drew enormous sums, even for losing candidates. Consider South Carolina, where three-term Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham raised $109 million, the most collected by any incumbent senator in US history and the most by a Republican Senate candidate.

Graham’s haul tops the $85.2 million that Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott, reported during his self-funded campaign in 2018, Glavin, a Campaign Finance Institute analyst, said.

Graham’s Democratic rival Jaime Harrison raised even more — $132 million in total — in his unsuccessful bid. Graham trounced the Democrat by double digits, and in a news release, highlighted his largesse to other Republicans. Graham said since Election Day he’s sent $1 million to help his party’s Senate campaign arm with twin runoffs in Georgia.

Those January 5 elections — pitting Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff against Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — will determine which party controls the upper chamber next year. (Updated figures on what the Georgia Senate candidates have raised will come later this month.)

This week’s filings with the Federal Election Commission also offer a final tally on another high-profile race that ended in defeat for a Democrat. In Kentucky, Democrat Amy McGrath raised more than $96 million in her unsuccessful bid to oust Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s top Republican.

By comparison, McConnell raised more than $66 million over the two-year election cycle.

McGrath recently launched a super PAC — Democratic Majority Action — to mobilize her legions of donors and help Democrats in the Georgia Senate contests. Super PACs affiliated with McConnell — the Senate Leadership Fund and American Crossroads — already have dominated spending in the Georgia contests.

Sheldon Adelson’s big bet

CEO and chairman of casino company Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson (L) listens as US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at a Keep America Great rally in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 21, 2020.

The new filings show that casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson continued to spend big on Trump’s reelection and helping Republicans retain the Senate.

Adelson and his wife, Miriam, donated a combined $15 million to Preserve America, a pro-Trump super PAC in the campaign’s waning days. The couple also plowed $10 million into the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund.

In all, the Adelsons’ contributions this cycle have topped $210 million, making them among the largest political donors of 2020.

CNN’s Sergio Hernandez contributed to this story.


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