Donald Trump's plan as president was to make a profit off of the public office, an expert on fascism said. 

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a historian at New York University and an expert on fascism, said Trump planned to make money for himself as the head of state, adding that his ambitions were unique when compared to the goals of his predecessors. 

"Trump's aims as president were totally different from any other president, Republican or Democrat," Ben-Ghiat said in an interview with the Business Insider. "His aims were autocratic in that he wanted to turn public office into a vessel of making money for himself — to have private profit off of public office."

The House Select Committee investigating the events that led to the Capitol riot on Monday released a taped interview where it was revealed that the Trump campaign raised $250 million for the Election Defense Fund, which was purported to pay for legal fees to overturn the 2020 election results. 

However, the donations were never used to fund court battles. Instead, most of the funding went to the Save America PAC and several pro-Trump organizations headed by the former president’s allies. Panel member Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-CA, also said at least $60,000 was paid to Kimberley Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr.’s fiancée, after she gave a two-and-a-half minute speech at the Jan. 6 Trump rally. 

"He was extremely disciplined in grifting and in trying to use the presidency to make money," Ben-Ghiat added.

She also said it was no surprise that Trump managed to get millions from small-level donors and followers to donate to the Election Defense Fund. Autocrats tend to be "very loved" by their supporters, and Trump was no different.

"But they despise their followers and they use them. And that's where him grifting off of his followers — because he is not grifting off of Democrats, he's grifting off of his followers, he's bilking his own followers."

Former US president Donald Trump allegedly said his vice president Mike Pence deserved to be hanged Former US president Donald Trump allegedly said his vice president Mike Pence deserved to be hanged Photo: AFP / JIM WATSON