Donald Trump Wanted to Fund Arizona Audit, Text Message Suggests

A newly released text message from an Arizona Republican suggests former President Donald Trump may have wanted to help fund an audit of the 2020 presidential election in the state's Maricopa County.

Documents released on August 31 under a court order include text messages from former Trump campaign official Jeff DeWit and Randy Pullen, a spokesperson for the audit.

In those messages, DeWit offered to contribute $175,000 to a so-called "dark money" group called the Guardian Defense Fund, of which Pullen was the treasurer, and later asked about contributions to another group, Fund the Audit by the America Project.

The America Project donated $3.25 million to fund the controversial Maricopa County audit carried out by Cyber Ninjas, making it the audit's single largest backer.

DeWit sent a text message to Pullen on April 28 about the America Project, saying: "So they are ok to donate to? Trump asking."

However, there is currently no evidence that the former president contributed financially to the audit.

While Cyber Ninjas revealed they had raised $5.6 million from five nonprofit groups including the America Project in July, they didn't name the original donors. So-called dark money groups don't have to reveal their donors.

DeWit told the Arizona Capitol Times on Tuesday: "I've been trying to stay really far away from that thing, but man, I don't want to be on record saying anything."

On Tuesday evening, the Arizona Senate released thousands of pages of records related to its partisan election “audit.”

Our team is still reviewing the documents and working on processing and posting them. Read about what we've found so far:

— American Oversight (@weareoversight) September 1, 2021

According to the newspaper, DeWit was reluctant to speak about the matter, but 15 minutes after that comment he called back and downplayed any involvement by the former president in funding the audit.

"I wasn't referring to Trump himself, but to the broader Trump orbit, as many people were trying to determine if this was a legitimate organization, or one of the hundreds of scam PACs that was trying to make money off the president's name and likeness," DeWit said.

The text messages were released following an order by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp. He set an August 31 deadline for the Arizona state senate to release documents in its physical possession that had been requested by American Oversight, a watchdog group.

The judge also ordered the release of audit documents in the possession of Cyber Ninjas and its subcontractors, but these have not yet been released as the Arizona Supreme Court is set to review the matter.

DeWit was state treasurer of Arizona between 2015 and 2018 and served as chair of Trump's 2016 campaign in the state. In 2018, Trump appointed him chief financial officer of space agency NASA. He resigned from that role in February 2020 and became chief operating officer of Trump's 2020 campaign in June that year.

The audit has been widely criticized throughout the process, including for pursuing conspiracy theories such as looking for bamboo fibers in ballots based on the unfounded claim that some ballots were shipped in from Asia. Cyber Ninjas has no previous experiences with election audits, but three audits have found no evidence of widespread irregularities in Maricopa County.

Newsweek has asked former President Trump's office for comment.

Trump Prepares to Speak at a Rally
Former U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to speak at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. A former Trump campaign official has denied he was referring to Trump when asking about funding the Arizona election audit. Brandon Bell/Getty Images