Trump Using Money From RNC And Campaign To Pay Legal Fees
Donald Trump is using money from the Republican National Committee and his campaign to pay legal fees associated with the Russia investigation, and it’s all perfectly legal:
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump is using money donated to his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Following Reuters exclusive report on Tuesday, CNN reported that the Republican National Committee paid in August more than $230,000 to cover some of Trump’s legal fees related to the probe.
RNC spokesperson Cassie Smedile confirmed to Reuters that Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, received $100,000 from the RNC and that the RNC also paid $131,250 to the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, the law firm where Jay Sekulow, another of Trump’s lawyers, is a partner.
The RNC is scheduled to disclose its August spending on Wednesday. The Trump campaign is due for a disclosure on Oct. 15.
The U.S. Federal Election Commission allows the use of private campaign funds to pay legal bills arising from being a candidate or elected official.
While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump would be the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts.
Smedile said the RNC payments to Trump’s lawyers were “from a pre-existing legal proceedings account and do not reduce by a dime the resources we can put towards our political work.”
It was not clear how Trump’s legal costs related to the Russia probe would be allocated between the campaign and the RNC, one of the sources said.
Dowd declined to say how the president’s legal bills were being paid, adding: “That’s none of your business.”
Since the Russia probe is connected to the campaign for President, this is perfectly legal. At the same time, I have to wonder what people who’ve actually donated to the RNC thinking that their money was going toward political activities are thinking when they learn that it’s going, at least in part, to cover the legal expenses of a man worth billions of dollars. Of course, this isn’t atypical for Trump. He’s often been known for using money from other sources, such as his private Foundation, rather than his own money to make charitable donations and the like. So this is entirely consistent with past behavior.