Trump argues that his fund-raising was ‘done legally,’ in response to a Times investigation.

Former President Donald J. Trump on Monday responded to a New York Times investigation revealing that his re-election operation had refunded more than 10 percent of what it had raised online — $122 million of $1.2 billion — and that a flood of refunds had come after his campaign set up weekly recurring donations by default for online donors. Contributors had to uncheck a box to opt out, and the box became increasingly hard to find as his campaign’s financial struggles grew.

“Our fundraising efforts, working together with the Republican party, were all done legally,” Mr. Trump said in a statement.

The Times reported that many donors had unwittingly become repeat contributors to Mr. Trump’s campaign because of the prechecked boxes. Retirees, military veterans, nurses and political operatives were among those ensnared. Many complained to their credit card companies and banks that they had been victims of fraud.

Records show that the Trump operation refunded 10.7 percent of what it raised in 2020 on the digital donation-processing site WinRed, compared with a 2.2 percent refund rate for President Biden’s operation on ActBlue, the Democratic platform.

How Refunds to Trump Donors Soared in 2020

Refunds are shown as the percentage of money received by each operation to date via WinRed and ActBlue.

Trump

By September, the Trump operation began to have online donations recur weekly by default.

10%

By June, the Trump operation and the R.N.C. had added a second pre-filled check box.

8

Around March 2020, the pre-filled check box first appeared on Mr. Trump’s online donation form.

6

4

Biden

2

0

Jan. 2020

Feb.

March

April

May

June

July

Aug.

Sept.

Oct.

Nov.

Dec.

Total online refunds in 2020, in millions

$122

Trump

$21

Biden

Trump

By September, the Trump operation began to have online donations recur weekly by default.

10%

By June, the Trump operation and the R.N.C. had added a second pre-filled check box.

Around March 2020, the pre-filled check box first appeared on Mr. Trump’s online donation form.

8

6

4

Biden

2

0

March

July

Sept.

Nov.

Jan. 2020

May

Total online refunds in 2020, in millions

$122

Trump

$21

Biden

Trump

10%

By June, the Trump operation and the R.N.C. had added a second pre-filled check box.

8

6

4

Biden

2

0

March

May

July

Sept.

Nov.

Jan. 2020

Total online refunds in 2020, in millions

$122

Trump

$21

Biden

Trump

10%

8

6

4

Biden

2

0

June

Nov.

Jan. 2020

Total online refunds in 2020,

in millions

$122

Trump

$21

Biden

Note: Donations and refunds to former President Donald J. Trump include those made via WinRed for the following organizations: Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., Trump Victory, Trump Make America Great Again Committee, Save America, and the Republican National Committee. Donations and refunds to President Biden include those made via ActBlue for the following groups: Biden for President, Biden Victory Fund, Biden Action Fund, Biden Fight Fund, and the Democratic National Committee.

Source: WinRed and ActBlue

By Eleanor Lutz and Rachel Shorey

Mr. Trump, who did not rebut any of the figures in the article, focused on a different number, arguing that his campaign’s “dispute rate” — the tally of formal complaints to credit cards — had been less than 1 percent of transactions. “A very low number,” he said.

That would still represent about 200,000 disputed donations, which his campaign had previously said added up to $19.7 million.

Mr. Trump’s campaign has previously declined to say if the former president personally knew about the prechecked box scheme, and he did not speak to that in his statement. But he did not denounce the tactics.

“Before our two campaigns, 2016 and 2020, Republicans would always lose small dollar donations,” Mr. Trump said in his statement. “Now we win, or do very well, because we are the Party of Working Americans, and we beat the Democrats at their own game. We learned from liberal ActBlue — and now we’re better than they are!”

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