President Trump directed his 2020 reelection campaign to release a statement attacking his former deputy campaign manager David Bossie for allegedly using his own political group to scam GOP donors, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to TPM Wednesday.
“This was something that the President was upset about,” the source told TPM. “This charge was brought on by the President.”
On Tuesday, Trump’s re-election campaign released a combative statement slamming independent political groups that “claim to be part of our ‘coalition’” but whose “actions show they are interested in filling their own pockets with money from innocent Americans’ paychecks.”
Several outlets have reported that the statement was referring to a joint report released Sunday by Axios and the Campaign Legal Center about the Presidential Coalition, an outside group run by Bossie that has raised millions using aggressive fundraising methods, and by boasting of its connections to Trump. Bossie also runs the pro-money-in-politics group Citizens United.
Just 3% of the group’s multi-millions went to direct political activity in 2017 and 2018, the report found, while its largest category of expenditures “by far,” per the report, “was more apparent fundraising for the Presidential Coalition.” The group also bought copies of “Trump’s Enemies,” the book Bossie wrote with fellow ex-Trump campaign veteran Corey Lewandowski, to give as gifts to donors.
Trump was “livid” after seeing the Axios report, TPM’s source said, adding: “After hearing about what Bossie did, [Trump] wanted to put out a forceful statement saying that these [other groups] are approved fundraising routes for people, if they’re interested in giving to help the President win re-election, and so that’s where the statement came from.
“Brad spoke directly with the President” before the campaign issued its statement, the source said, referring to Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale. “This was something that the President was upset about … this charge was brought on by the President.”
The campaign’s Tuesday statement endorsed America First Action, a super PAC stocked with Trump allies, as a trustworthy source of Trump supporters’ dollars. America First Action’s sister “dark money” organization, America First Policies, filed its first tax return last year, revealing in November that it had paid $2.7 million to Parscale’s firm, Parscale Strategy LLC. The two groups together paid Parscale’s firm more than $1 million for services during the 2018 election cycle, according to separate Federal Election Commission data.
Parscale and Bossie were both involved with founding America First Policies shortly after Trump’s election.
“Every dollar groups like Bossie’s and similar groups raise is a dollar the campaign does not,” an unnamed senior Trump administration official told Axios.
The White House referred TPM to the Trump campaign for comment. Bossie did not return multiple requests for comment Wednesday, though he did respond angrily to Axios and the CLC’s initial report, which was released Sunday.
The Presidential Coalition, Bossie said in a lengthy statement to Axios, makes “no apology for building a multi-million war chest for deployment in the all-important 2020 elections.”