It pays to become a Trump nemesis.
Consider what now has become a familiar routine: get into a highly publicized media battle with President Trump, set up an online crowdfunding campaign for your legal defense and watch hundreds of thousands pour into your bank account from the anti-Trump “resistance.”
Since April, according to a review by Fox News, more than $1.7 million has been donated through crowdfunding campaigns like GoFundMe to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, fired FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, fired FBI agent Peter Strzok and adult film star Stormy Daniels.
The latest effort comes from Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal lawyer who turned on the president this week, to the delight of Trump’s critics. In a plea deal with prosecutors, Cohen admitted to violating federal campaign finance laws by arranging hush money payments to two women allegedly at the direction of then-candidate Trump during the 2016 race.
Money raised online by Trump foes, as of Aug. 23
Michael Cohen: $136,221
Andrew McCabe: $554,000
Peter Strzok: $443,170
Stormy Daniels: $585,563
His attorney, Lanny Davis, on Tuesday set up a legal defense fund for Cohen on GoFundMe with a goal of raising $500,000. As of Thursday morning, Cohen’s fund had raised more than $136,000.
“The Michael Cohen Truth Fund is a transparent trust account, with all donations going to help Michael Cohen and his family as he goes forward on his journey to tell the truth about Donald Trump,” the fundraising page says.
Some critics, though, have found the blatant request for donations to be icky.
The live audience mockingly laughed when Davis, during a Wednesday appearance on Megyn Kelly’s television show on NBC, asked people to donate so Cohen “can continue to tell the truth.”
“I don’t know if they’re ready to donate, Lanny,” Kelly replied, as the laughter faded.
Others – including those who are no fans of Trump – have criticized the GoFundMe campaigns as opportunistic.
Last week, "Daily Show" host Trevor Noah took aim at the GoFundMe page for Strzok, who was fired from the FBI after the revelation of numerous anti-Trump text messages while he was involved in the bureau’s Hillary Clinton and Russia probes. As of Thursday, Strzok’s crowdfunding page indicates that he’s raised $443,170 out of a $500,000 goal.
"Because seriously, half a million dollars on a GoFundMe just for hating Donald Trump!” Noah said. “There are cancer patients on that site that are like, ‘Hey! We hate him too, can you help me pay for my treatment?'"
"Daily Show" correspondent Michael Kosta added: "I get it. People are desperate for something that can hurt Trump even a little bit. But that's how scams work, by preying on the most desperate."
The first to really embrace this fundraising strategy was McCabe, who was fired from the FBI in March after the DOJ’s inspector general determined McCabe was not truthful during his review of the Clinton email investigation and the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility recommended his firing.
McCabe was fired just days before he would have been eligible for a lifetime pension. He countered that he was unfairly singled out by the administration, and punished for what he knows about James Comey's firing.
A GoFundMe campaign set up to cover legal expenses far exceeded its goal, raising about $554,000. Organizers ended the campaign, having raised more than anticipated.
“The donations have more than tripled the original goal, which is nothing short of astonishing,” McCabe spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz said in April.
Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she was paid off during the 2016 by Cohen to keep quiet about a past sexual encounter with Trump, has raised more than a half-million dollars in her crowdfunding campaign.
“I am attempting to speak honestly and openly to the American people about my relationship with now President Donald Trump and the intimidation and tactics used against me,” Daniels says on the fundraising site.
Cohen's plea deal, and other documents, supported her claim that she was paid hush money.
Some former Trump associates, ensnarled in Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, have also set up defense funds. Supporters of Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, have set up a website to raise money for his legal defense. But that site doesn’t list how much was raised.
There have been some hiccups in the crowdfunding efforts: Davis, the attorney for Cohen, on Wednesday mistakenly promoted “michaelcohentruth.com” as the place where supporters could donate to his client's legal fund -- but a Trump supporter apparently swooped up that domain first.
It now redirects to Trump’s campaign website donaldjtrump.com, which urges visitors to contribute to re-elect the president and "Make America Great Again."
Fox News’ Gregg Re and Sasha Savitsky contributed to this report.