Trump attends NY fundraiser with top Republican donors right after guilty verdict

Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to speak to the press after he was convicted in his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, May 30, 2024. -- Seth Wenig/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump is firing up his fundraising machine after being found guilty on all 34 counts in his hush money trial -- attending a campaign fundraiser with top Republican donors an on the Upper East Side Manhattan Thursday night and blasting out fundraising emails to small-dollar donors just minutes after the verdict dropped.

The Manhattan fundraiser was an intimate event, attended by a little more than a couple dozen people including staff, described by one attendee as “Very upbeat. Very positive.”

In attendance was top Republican donors like Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, who, after the 2022 midterms, had called for a new generation of leaders in the Republican Party but more recently indicated that he would back Trump again.

Other attendees included longtime friend and donor Steve Witkoff, who had joined Trump at court several times throughout the trial, and WABC radio owner John Catsimatidis.

“He was in very high spirits,” Catsimatidis said on his his radio station Thursday night after attending the fundraiser, noting that Trump’s son Eric Trump was at the fundraiser as well.

“This is not the – not the A List … It was a AAA List,” Catsimatidis said of the donors that attended the fundraisers. He said Trump went around the donors asking who they think his running mate should be, adding Sen. Tim Scott, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s names were floated.

“A lot of people said to Trump, we don't like Nikki Haley, but she might make a difference,” Catsimatidis said.

Overall, it was a relatively short fundraiser -- Trump departing the venue less than two hours after his arrival, giving a wave to the public who gathered to get a glimpse of the former president.

“Never surrender!” one native New Yorker yelled, and Trump smiled from his motorcade.

“He was fired up,” a man exiting the fundraiser told ABC News.

In addition to mingling with high-dollar donors, the Trump campaign immediately began appealing to small-dollar donors off of his verdict, blasting out online fundraising messages, telling his supporters he had been convicted in a "rigged" trial.

"I was just convicted in a RIGGED political Witch Hunt trial: I DID NOTHING WRONG!" read a fundraising email, which was sent out minutes after the former president left the courthouse.

"They've raided my home, arrested me, took my mugshot, AND NOW THEY'VE JUST CONVICTED ME!" the email continued.

The fundraising page for Trump's campaign went down for a few minutes after it was made public following the verdict. The campaign is claiming the platform was shut down "due to overwhelming amount of support."

"WinRed is down due to the overwhelming amount of support out there, all across America! Stay strong, and thank you," Trump senior adviser Dan Scavino wrote on X. "The site will be up and running again soon!"

Trump's co-campaign manager Chris LaCivita wrote on X: "If you are one of the millions of American Patriots wanting to donate to Donald Trump's campaign and you get an error message from @WINRED …don't give up! Log back on and try again ! or Text TRUMP to 88022 Help us send weak @JoeBiden packing !!!"

Donors and fundraisers for Trump and the Republican National Committee told ABC News that this is an indication that the verdict is firing up Trump supporters.

"President Trump's donation site just crashed. People are sending money like crazy. People are fired up," said Bill White, a longtime friend and fundraiser of Trump.

White said a donor pledged $50,000 to the Trump campaign just 10 minutes after the verdict came out.

"I have a friend of mine in California, and he just texted me, I said, 'Look I'm gonna get together some people for fundraising,' and he said, 'Count me in for $50,000,'" White said.

"[My husband] and I will be making another contribution in light of this – I don't accept the jury verdict," White continued, saying the verdict has fired himself up to contribute more as well. "It will 100% be overruled on appeal, and it may need to go to the Supreme Court."

"Given WinRed was overwhelmed and shut down, I'd say so far positive indication on the fundraising side," Ozzie Palomo, a former Haley bundler now raising money for the RNC told ABC News. "You've had some big donors come out days before the verdict knowing full well a guilty verdict was a possibility. If it didn't scare donors then can't see how it will scare them off now. There will be an appeal and it plays into Trump's narrative."

It took the jury 10 hours to come to their decision.

Trump, who was impeached twice while in office and found not guilty in both cases, has faced four indictments for much of the 2024 race. The case in Manhattan dealt with a hush money payment to a porn star and his attempt to hide salacious allegations from voters to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

The former president pleaded not guilty and denied all wrongdoing, including ever having had an sexual encounter with Daniels. After the verdict was read, Trump railed against the judge, and called the trial "rigged [and] disgraceful."

Sentencing is scheduled for July 11.

Friday, May 31, 2024 at 9:26AM by John Santucci, Soo Rin Kim, Lalee Ibssa and Kelsey Walsh, ABC News Permalink