Trump raises millions of dollars in Newport Beach and Beverly Hills


Former President Trump, appearing at a fundraiser Saturday at a bayfront Newport Beach mansion, pledged to defeat “crooked Joe Biden” in November and return to the White House to pursue an “America First” policy that avoids unnecessary foreign entanglements and to shut down the border.

“He was amazing as always,” said dentist Harleen Grewal, 41, of Santa Clarita. “He talked about the state of the country, what we need to bring us back to the American dream, the American people, how we’ve got to think about our country first and close the open border. For me, as a legal immigrant, I feel the same way. Everyone can come in by the right process, the legal process.

“He talked about all the wars that are going on. During his presidency, there were no wars and we had the greatest economy in the history of the United States,” she added. “We as Americans, we need that back. If we don’t get it this time, it’s the end of America. It really is.”

About 3,000 Trump supporters greeted the former president, according to the Newport Beach Police Department. They roared and and chanted, “Donald! Donald!” as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee‘s motorcade drove to the fundraiser on gated Harbor Island shortly before 1 p.m.

Earlier, as people waved flags that read “Trump 2024” and a banner that read “Never Surrender!” and “We stand united with Trump!,” Andrea Flores, 49, of Rancho Santa Margarita, stood on a corner wearing a red Trump baseball cap and chatting with a fellow supporter.

“I wish people would let go of the hate they have for him and do what’s best for the country,” Flores said. “There’s only two candidates right now — one that can’t walk and talk and one that they hate — you have to pick your poison.”

Flores, a Republican, said the economy and the border are among her top issues this election. As for Trump’s recent felony conviction, several supporters in the crowd, including Flores, said the charges were “politically motivated.”

The Saturday event was the last stop on a three-day fundraising trip in California — his first forays with donors after a New York jury convicted him of 34 counts of falsifying business records about $130,000 in payments to adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who alleges they had sex in Lake Tahoe during a golf tournament, in an effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has lagged behind President Biden in fundraising — both nationally and in California. And Democrats are also spending time in the state raising money — Vice President Kamala Harris held at least three fundraisers this week. Biden is headlining a major fundraiser next weekend with former President Obama and actors George Clooney and Julia Roberts.

On Friday and Saturday, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Gov. Gavin Newsom were among the speakers at a fundraiser for Democratic congressional candidates at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.

Trump has received an infusion of cash since the verdicts were announced on May 30. Notably, he reported raising $53 million in the first 24 hours after the trial ended. Between a Thursday fundraiser in San Francisco, a Friday event in Beverly Hills, Saturday’s Newport Beach luncheon and another gathering in Las Vegas, Trump was expected to raise $27.5 million for his campaign committee as well as an additional $6 million for other groups supporting his effort, according to a senior campaign official.

Trump, bound by a gag order as he awaits sentencing, did not mention his convictions at any of the California fundraisers.

On Saturday, donors spent up to $100,000 to attend the Newport Beach roundtable and luncheon — the least expensive top tickets of the trip. The home overlooking Newport Bay was surrounded by a flotilla of boats flying Trump, MAGA and American flags.

Donald Holly Sr., 82, woke up Saturday morning with butterflies in his stomach. It would be his first time seeing Trump, and he brought a bottle of seltzer water to calm his stomach as he approached the hotel where donors were being shuttled to the fundraiser. His son Richard Holly, 56, followed closely behind, brushing at his dad’s suit with a lint roller to clean off any wisp of cat hair.

“He just knows how to run a business and certainly knows how to run a country,” the elder Holly said. “All you have to do is look at what we had and as far as inflation goes, no world wars — everything was going on fine” during the Trump presidency, he said.

Trump supporters in Newport Beach, where the former president was attending a fundraiser Saturday.

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

The event was held at the home of health insurance company co-founder John Word and his wife, Kimberly, whose home was decorated with red, white and blue bunting across the seawall and along doors and windows on the property. Billionaire tech entrepreneur Palmer Luckey, who lives on nearby Lido Isle, was a co-host.

Attendees nibbled on ceviche, barbecue shrimp skewers, mini burritos and petite cakes and drank “Freedom Brew” as they waited for the former president to speak. Actor Jon Voight and congressional candidate Scott Baugh mingled in the crowd, which was described as younger and more diverse than prior fundraisers in Newport Beach.

“It speaks of the new Orange County,” said Shawn Steel, one of California’s three members of the Republican National Committee and the husband of Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Seal Beach).

Aside from a plane towing a banner reading, “Orange County votes Biden/Harris 2024” over Newport Bay, there were no obvious signs of pro-Biden or anti-Trump efforts on Saturday. (The county, a longtime conservative bastion, voted against Trump in 2016 and 2020, the first time it supported Democratic presidential candidates since the Great Depression.)

On Friday evening, Trump headlined a fundraiser at the Beverly Hills Italianate mansion of Lee Samson, a longtime philanthropist who is on the board of directors of the Republican Jewish Coalition. He has hosted many fundraisers for GOP politicians over the years, including one for Trump in 2019 that raised $5 million and another in 2020 with the then-president’s daughter Ivanka supporting his reelection that raised $2 million.

Donald Trump waves to supporters as he leaves a home that held a fundraiser for his campaign in Beverly Hills on Friday.

Donald Trump waves to supporters as he leaves a home that held a fundraiser for his campaign in Beverly Hills on Friday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Nearby, a Burbank artist arranged a birthday greeting for the former president, who turns 78 on Friday. A few dozen supporters waved flags outside the event, including one featuring a QAnon conspiracy theory that referenced a canard that John F. Kennedy Jr. is still alive.

Tickets to Friday’s event cost up to $250,000 per person, and the event raised $6 million for his 2024 campaign, Trump told the crowd, according to attendee Gregg Donovan, 64, of Santa Monica.

Donovan, dressed in his red-tailcoat and black top-hat uniform from his former role as the goodwill ambassador of Beverly Hills, said he was moved to buy a $5,000 ticket because seeing Trump’s reelection bid in person “was history in the making.”

The longtime Trump supporter said he was alarmed by Trump’s conviction, because “if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone.”

He said he expects Trump to win in November, in part because, among his friends, Trump has more support than he did in 2020 — especially among immigrants who are angry about the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border.

After Trump was introduced by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — reportedly among the elected officials being vetted as a potential running mate — and Samson, the former president spoke for about 45 minutes and promised on Day 1 in the Oval Office to secure the border and to “drill, baby, drill,” Donovan said.

Katie Zacharia, 39, of Thousand Oaks, attended both the Beverly Hills and Newport Beach fundraisers. She said Trump’s line that stood out most for her was about “defeating crooked Joe Biden and returning to the White House.”

“He was really just passionate about the forward movement of his campaign [and] really casting hope for where our future can be, and just kind of resetting the country, returning back to the Trump-era policies that we got to enjoy while he was president and prosperous economy,” said the mother of four, who added that she appreciated Trump’s non-globalist stance because she fears that her three boys could have to fight in an overseas war.

Samson is the founder of Windsor Healthcare Management, one of the largest skilled nursing and rehabilitation providers in California and Arizona. One of the group’s facilities was accused in 2020 of pressuring patients to relocate so it could accept more lucrative patients during the pandemic, according to the New York Times.

A spokesperson for the Windsor Park Care Center in Fremont, where the incident allegedly occurred, declined comment to the newspaper, but Samson told it, “Whatever my political affiliation, Windsor’s commitment to protecting its residents will never be compromised.”

The Biden-Harris reelection campaign seized upon the allegations.

“If you want to know who Donald Trump fights for, just look at who he spends his time with … in this case, a billionaire who evicted seniors from his nursing homes during a deadly pandemic to line his own pockets,” said Sarafina Chitika, a spokesperson for the campaign. “Trump is making it clear to America’s seniors that if he wins this November, he’ll happily sell them out to his billionaire donors — gutting Social Security and Medicare while passing tax giveaways for his wealthy, extreme allies.”

The Friday evening fundraiser ended relatively early because many guests were Jewish and needed to head home for Shabbat, Trump said, according to Donovan. Attendees in cocktail dresses and suits spilled out onto the quiet Beverly Hills street shortly before sunset.

As Trump’s motorcade left shortly before 8 p.m. Friday, Robin Dominguez, 67, thrust a sign into the air that read, “TRUMP GUILTY,” and, on the other side, “LOCK HIM UP.” She wore a red shirt that read in white type: “Make Racists Afraid Again.”

One woman in a red MAGA hat screamed, “Shame on you!” at Dominguez, then told her if she didn’t like the U.S., she should move to Venezuela. The window of a red SUV rolled down as it passed by, and a preteen passenger yelled: “Hey, lady! Put that sign down. The case was illegitimate.”

A Donald Trump supporter stands outside a home in Beverly Hills on Friday.

A Donald Trump supporter stands outside a home in Beverly Hills on Friday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Dominguez said many people told her Friday that they believed Trump’s trial was a sham. But, she said, “how can it be a conspiracy when 12 people all found him guilty?”

On Thursday in San Francisco, Trump told donors at venture capitalist David Sacks’ Pacific Heights estate that he raised $12 million. U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), another elected official reportedly on Trump’s potential list of running mates, was among his introducers at the event that cost up to $300,000 for individuals and up to $500,000 for couples.

“He said if there were no cheating, I would win this election today,” said Harmeet Dhillon, a San Francisco attorney whose firm represents the Trump campaign and attended the fundraiser. “But there is cheating so we have to be vigilant. He talked about how this time around, we would do things different, that we’ve got a lot of smart lawyers and volunteers lined up and things like that.”

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