Tens of millions in Trump political donations going to legal fees

October 17, 2023

Former President Trump’s fundraising operation is taking in donations at exceptional rates, but the indicted politician is spending tens of millions from the coffers to pay attorneys’ fees, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Trump announced he’s running for reelection in 2024 back in November. Since then, he’s been hit with a total of 91 criminal counts in four separate prosecutions at both the state—Georgia and New York—and federal levels. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. 

While campaign finance experts have told the AP that using money to pay for lawyers in cases not related to a political campaign or officeholder duties appears to conflict with the federal ban on using campaign funds for personal matters, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has ruled that this ban does not apply to political action committees (PACs). 

According to FEC records, Trump’s Save America PAC has paid nearly $37 million to more than 60 law firms and individual attorneys since January 2022—more than half the PAC’s total expenditures.

And during the first half of this year, Save America spent over $20 million on legal-related costs—more than the Republican National Committee (RNC), Democratic National Committee (DNC) and National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spent during that same period combined.

Trump’s political team has also moved millions from his super PAC, MAGA Inc., to help pay his legal fees.

Along with defending Trump against criminal indictments, his legal team is also defending him against several civil lawsuits. 

Meanwhile, some of Trump’s co-defendants who were indicted on racketeering and other charges related to 2020 election interference in Georgia are pressuring the former President and real estate magnate to pay their legal fees, as well. Trump runs the risk of their possibly “flipping” on him if he doesn’t foot their bills. 

Trump’s fundraising related to his legal troubles has followed a pattern: he gets in legal trouble, he pushes back forcefully, political donations spike. 

“The indictments are probably not expanding his coalition, but it’s certainly giving it greater intensity,” Anthony Michael Kreis, a law professor at Georgia State University, told the AP. “So people who are already supporting Donald Trump are probably going to dig in their heels and support him more.”

The Trump campaign did not respond to the AP’s request for comment.

PHOTO: Trump speech following NY arraignment in “hush money” case

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

 

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