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This Trump Fundraising Email Will Surprise You

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Former President Donald Trump points during a May 1 rally at Avflight Saginaw in Freeland, Michigan.

A version of this story appeared in CNN’s What Matters newsletter. To receive it in your inbox, sign up for free here.



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Supporters of former President Donald Trump were supposed to be surprised when they were sent an email addressed by “President Trump” on Tuesday, with this striking subject line:

“They were authorized to shoot me!”

The email preview line did not recede.

“I almost escaped death. Biden’s Justice Department was locked in and loaded with lethal force at Mar-a-Lago…”

Literal readers of Trump’s message might wonder: Is this a cry for help from physical harm?

But everyone should know that this is simply Trump asking, once again, for money.

Writing fundraising emails to politicians these days often seems like an exercise in clickbait, but claiming a life in danger is something new. It also feels like a twist on the outrageous “absolute immunity” argument that Trump’s lawyer made before the US Supreme Court last month that presidents should, at least in theory, be able to report an attack on a political rival. and not face a judicial process.

The actual facts of the “authorized to shoot me” accusation, as reported by CNN, are these:

A newly revealed document outlining the FBI’s procedure for searching Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in 2022 for classified documents included standard language about “use of force” in searches.

From CNN reporting by Tierney Sneed, Katelyn Polantz, Holmes Lybrand and Hannah Rabinowitz:

The document, called a police operations order, explains which officers were allowed to take with them when they searched Trump’s estate and how they were allowed to operate as part of the search. It also includes repetitive language department of justice handbook on the use of force, including the limited circumstances in which officers are authorized to use deadly force.

The FBI coordinated the search with the Secret Service and strove to keep as low a profile as possible, according to testimony on Capitol Hill last year by Stephen D’Antuono, the former FBI deputy director in charge of the Washington field office.

“We made sure to interact with the Secret Service to make sure we could get into Mar-a-Lago without problems,” D’Antuono said. “We are not going to break down any doors. We didn’t have any FBI vehicles, everything that was reported about helicopters and a hundred people descending, like in a Die Hard movie, was completely false, right?

Trump was not at Mar-a-Lago when the search occurred, and in fact announced that the search was underway with a social media post. Read CNN’s original report on the search for Mar-a-Lago in August 2022.

Those details don’t fit the subject line of an email and they certainly don’t fit Trump’s narrative that he is being persecuted.

The biggest headline from the revealed documents, according to CNN’s report on Tuesday, was that a federal judge in Washington, D.C., found “strong evidence” of crimes before Trump was charged with mishandling classified data. Judge Beryl Howell cited the discovery of additional documents with classified markings found in Trump’s bedroom at Mar-a-Lago months after the FBI search.

Trump is a master sensationalist, so put the subject line of the email saying he is physically harmed into his oeuvre of exaggerated and false accusations.

The email address where I receive fundraising pitches from politicians received seven such messages from Trump on Tuesday.

On any given day, there is likely to be at least one that is misleading. Like this one from Tuesday:

“I have made a final decision. What do you think of my choice of vice president? (In truth, Trump has not announced who his running mate will be.)

Other subject lines are driving merchandising:

“YOU, have you seen my mugshot? “I put it in a cup for you.” (In related news, Trump’s former lawyer Rudy Giuliani now sells his own brand of coffee.)

There are drawings to win trips to Las Vegas and London. (You can enter to win with a contribution of $20.24.)

Trump’s allegations about the FBI document were not just contained in the fundraising email.

In a social media post, he weaved the “deadly force” allegation into other ongoing complaints: The temperature in his Manhattan criminal courtroom was too cold. Trump believes President Joe Biden is unfit for office and believes Biden’s Cabinet should remove him from the presidency.

The social media post looked like this:

“WOW! I just left Biden’s Manhattan witch hunt trial, the ‘Icebox,’ and was shown reports that Joe Biden’s corrupt Justice Department, in its illegal and unconstitutional raid on Mar-a-Lago , AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETAL) FORCE. WE NOW KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT TO HOLD OFFICE – AMENDMENT 25!”

The truth is that voters will have a say in Biden’s fitness for office. New York criminal judge Juan Merchán explained to Trump at trial that raising the thermostat would turn the refrigerator into an oven. And there is absolutely no indication that anyone in Biden’s Cabinet is considering or has ever considered invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.

On that last point, the same cannot be said for Trump, some of whose Cabinet members did discuss but did not act on the use of the 25th Amendment after the 2021 Capitol riot.

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