Nov 28 (Reuters) - Republican mega-donor Bernie Marcus said on Tuesday he would likely still give money to Donald Trump's 2024 presidential bid if the former president was convicted of a crime - but the billionaire does not plan to be one of his biggest financial backers.
Marcus, a co-founder of home improvement retailer The Home Depot, announced earlier this month that he was supporting Trump, the runaway frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination contest that kicks off on Jan. 15 in Iowa. Trump faces four criminal cases, including state and federal charges stemming from his efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden. Trump, 77, denies any wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty in all four cases. The unprecedented legal turmoil has prompted questions about what would happen to Trump's campaign if he was convicted or jailed.
Asked in an interview with Reuters whether he would still support Trump if he were convicted, Marcus replied, "I think so. Because I think it's all trumped up."
Marcus, 94, who supported Trump's White House runs in 2016 and 2020, said he had spoken to the former president recently. "I never discussed his legal fees or his legal problems," Marcus said, adding that Trump was "very happy" about his support.
Marcus and his wife Billi Wilma Marcus were the seventh-largest individual Republican donors in the 2020 election cycle, giving nearly $25 million to Republican campaigns, according to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit group that tracks money in politics. Business magazine Forbes estimates Marcus' net worth at around $8.8 billion.
Marcus would not be drawn into specifics of his donations this time around, saying only he would support Trump in the primary and in the general election against Biden in November 2024, should Trump be the nominee. However, Marcus cautioned he would not be a major financial supporter.
"Of course, I'm going to support him to some extent, but I'm not one of his big givers, that's for sure," Marcus said.
The billionaire said he also liked Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley, a former U.N. ambassador and South Carolina governor, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but did not think they could beat Trump in the nominating contest.
Marcus said he thought Trump was a "fixer" who would be beneficial to the U.S. economy and strong on Middle East foreign policy. (Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer, additional reporting by Andrew Goudsward; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)