The legal cost of the Russia probe is mounting for President Trump, and he is apparently using money from the Republican National Committee (RNC) to pay for it. Trump is also pulling funds from his re-election campaign to cover the expenses of his team of lawyers.
Two payments totaling $231,250 was paid to his legal team, and they will be reported on federal election forms that are due on Wednesday, the RNC confirmed. A Reuters report also confirmed that Trump had used money from his base for reelection to pay for legal representation associated with the Russia investigation that is being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
It is perfectly legal for political officials to use their campaign accounts to pay for attorney fees if it stems from work related to being a public official. Last year, a judge ruled that former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) could not use his campaign funds in his defense of the allegations that he had solicited sex in an airport bathroom.
The money from the RNC is not coming from their main account which is used to support candidates and political campaigns, an RNC spokesperson said. The payments “have been paid with funds from a pre-existing legal proceedings account and do not reduce by a dime the resources we can put towards our political work,” RNC spokeswoman Cassie Smedile said.
Congress created the legal proceedings account two years ago so that Democrat and Republican Party committees could raise money from donors to pay for legal fees. Each contributor can give up to $100,200. It was initially created to help pay for the costs of things like election recounts, and since it is so new, there is not a whole lot of guidance on how it can be used.
Since Trump was elected, the RNC’s legal proceedings account has raised almost $3.35 million according to the Federal Election Commission. They still have millions left after the first two payments.
The RNC first began discussing chipping in on Trump’s legal costs in July, and the party officials were split. Having the Republican Party resource the president’s legal costs associated with a criminal investigation is unprecedented, however, as to this date, no criminal charges have been alledged. But one Republican source said, “When it comes to the RNC, I can’t think of a time where a Republican president has expressed that something should happen and it didn’t happen.”
The president himself has paid out $678,000 in “legal consulting” fees between April and June according to Federal Election Commission records.
What do you think about the RNC chipping in for Trump’s legal costs in the Russia probe?
Credit: The Hill