May 20, 2024

Donald Trump’s latest fundraising venture is a little atypical for a presidential candidate.

Trump and five of his far-right allies set up shop Tuesday in a room at the New York City courthouse where the real estate mogul is being tried for 34 felony charges related to hush-money payments made to porn actress Stormy Daniels.

It was another way for Trump—who owes nearly half a billion dollars in damages in his other legal battles and allegedly stiffed his former employees, including Rudy Giuliani and Michael Cohen, out of hundreds of thousands of dollars—to save some cash on a filming location. But realistically, the low-budget ad could have been shot practically anywhere, especially considering that the court granted two days off this week from a criminal trial that legally requires Trump’s attendance.

Instead, biotech investor Vivek Ramaswamy, RNC co-chair Lara Trump, and Eric Trump joined two Republican representatives, all matched and color-coordinated in their blue suits and red ties, attempting to portray Trump as a candidate unjustly locked in the courthouse.

“We’re here in court with President Trump standing with him, but we need you to stand with him too,” said Florida Representative Byron Donalds, incorrectly referring to the GOP nominee as president. “These Democrats are nuts, and they must be defeated.”

“Anything you can give would make a world of difference; we are here fighting the good fight,” said Lara Trump, before Trump slowly shuffled behind the entourage. “They cannot win. We need your help to make America great again.” 

The crowd joins a growing cohort of conservative leaders who have stopped to brown-nose Trump amid his criminal trials. On Tuesday, former North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, House Speaker Mike Johnson, and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott each paid visits, the day after  Senators J.D. Vance and Tommy Tuberville stopped by.

A majority of Trump’s high-profile attendees have refused to provide direct answers in recent weeks when questioned about whether they’ll accept the November election results. Scott, for his part, refused six times to give his answer on the issue during an interview on Meet the Press. The show of loyalty is a significant rejection of the rule of law in favor of power in Trump’s potential administration—and it’s especially poignant in the face of his first criminal trial.