On the other side of the political divide, the Lincoln Project, a prominent anti-Trump group founded by Republicans, is selling shot glasses (US$55.00 for six) with the mugshot and “FAFO”, an acronym for “Fuck Around and Find Out”, a rallying cry among Trump critics. Etsy, the crafts website, has dozens of mocking products, including a Taylor Swift concert T-shirt parody (US$26.00).
In Los Angeles, a T-shirt store unaffiliated with any campaign, had already started selling tops emblazoned with the image on Friday afternoon.
“I think it’s very classic consumerism for this country,” said shopper CJ Butler from Atlanta, Georgia. “Hey, it’s Trump. He sells everything, so why not have a T-shirt?”
The image could be a huge fundraiser for the Republican candidate, some political strategists predict.
“His superfans are going to see this and it will be a fist-pumping exercise for them to send in that US$25 and get that shirt or that mug,” said David Kochel, a veteran Republican presidential campaign operative in Iowa. “It’s kind of sad at the end of the day that the campaign is going to celebrate his indictment over 13 criminal charges – but that’s where our politics is.”
Trump has for months sought to leverage the criminal probes against him to rally support from his base, starting with his first indictment in New York. His fundraising groups, including his past and current presidential campaigns, have reported investing more than US$98 million in merchandise operations since 2015, buying items like bumper stickers, hoodies and coffee mugs to sell.
Speaking to Reuters after the Republican debate on Wednesday, co-campaign manager Chris LaCivita said his team had been focused on turning the four indictments into a positive, “making sure that we were making lemonade at every opportunity, which I think we did”.
Veterans of other political operations say campaigns can make a 50 per cent profit or more on their merchandise sales, and LaCivita on Thursday warned off those trying to make money from the image without the campaign’s permission.
What legal rights, if any, Trump’s campaign may have over the mugshot’s reproduction are unclear, however. The photo was distributed by the Fulton County court to media outlets.