After Donald Trump surrendered in Georgia's Fulton County jail on charges of overturning election results in 2020 and posed for a mugshot - a historic first for a former US President - his campaign team for the 2024 presidential polls said that it has raised $7.1 million since the photo went viral on social media.
Trump's historic mugshot has been used as merchandise such as mugs, T-shirts and drink coolers displaying his scowling face at the Fulton County jail, reported BBC. The former US President was released on a USD 200,000 bond after which he headed back to the airport for his return flight to New Jersey.
Spokesperson Steven Cheung told AP that the campaign managed to raise $4.18 million on Friday itself - its highest till-date. This shows how Trump's legal woes have been used as a fundraising boon for his presidential campaign. The indictments have also failed to dent his prospects among the Republicans in the upcoming election - where he is leading his rivals by 30-50 points.
Trump described his appearance on Thursday in Atlanta as a “terrible experience” and said that posing for the mugshot was “not a comfortable feeling.” However, his campaign immediately seized on its fundraising power after his picture was taken.
Trump's legal battles
Trump's surrender to law enforcement authorities has become by now a familiar election-season routine in a way that belies the unprecedented spectacle of a former president being booked, in four different cities, on felony criminal charges.
However, his visit to Atlanta was not like his previous three surrenders. Trump’s surrender unfolded at night and required him to visit a problem-plagued jail instead of a courtroom, not in a liberal bastion like New York or Washington but rather in the battleground state considered crucial for the 2024 presidential election. The former US president, unlike in other cities where he was not required to pose for a mug shot, had to snap a booking photo, according to a person familiar with the proceedings.
The former President also marked a return to X (formerly Twitter), posting the mugshot as his first message on the platform in 2.5 years. “Election interference. Never surrender!” he wrote, along with a link to his website, which directs to a fundraising site.
It was Trump's first post since January 8, 2021, when Twitter suspended his account indefinitely, citing fears he would incite additional violence following the deadly storming of the US Capitol building. His account was reinstated last November shortly after Elon Musk took over the company, but Trump had refrained from tweeting, insisting that he was happier on his own Truth Social site, which he launched during the ban.
The latest indictment in Georgia marks the fourth criminal case against Trump, as the Republican frontrunner for the 2024 elections is also accused of inciting the 2021 riots on the US Capitol, illegally retaining classified documents and paying hush money.
Since then, he's faced federal charges in Florida and Washington, and this month he was indicted in Atlanta with 18 others — including his ex-chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani — under a racketeering statute normally associated with gang members and organized crime.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and he characterizes the case — and three others he is facing — as efforts to hurt his 2024 presidential campaign. He has regularly used his Truth Social platform to single out prosecutors and others involved in his cases and to continue to spread falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen from him.
(with inputs from agencies)