Trump’s legal fees appear to be piling up for donors, election spending report shows

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s fundraising slowed in the final three months of 2023 and his legal fees appeared to strain the finances of his election efforts, according to new revelations submitted to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Trump’s election campaign reported $19 million raised in the final three months of 2023, compared to less than $25 million in the third quarter. The total is less than the $33 million announced by Democrat Joe Biden, who announced his intention to run for a second term.

Trump’s campaign ended last year with about $33 million in the bank, compared to nearly $46 million for Biden’s campaign.

The largest super PAC supporting the former president, a group known as MAGA Inc, sent $30 million in the second half to a separate Trump group known as Save America, which paid the legal costs of the former manager. That was more than double what it sent in the first half of 2023.

A man in a suit and tie speaks at a podium and extends his arms, in front of a pair of flags.
Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters Wednesday in Washington, DC. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Trump was charged with 91 crimes in four separate criminal indictments between March and August of last year.

The $30 million transfer also represents a significant portion of the $48 million MAGA Inc raised in the second half of the year, meaning less money for MAGA Inc to spend to support Trump’s election efforts.

Save America’s legal spending accelerated in the second half of 2023, when it reported spending more than $25 million on legal fees, according to a Reuters analysis of its latest filing. During the first half of the year, the committee reported spending about $22 million on legal matters.

Trump’s online donors are being told that 10% of their contribution will go to Save America, according to multiple US media reports.

American politicians have traditionally had wide latitude in spending money raised through leadership PACs like Save America. Although U.S. law prohibits candidates from using campaign money for personal expenses, the FEC, which enforces campaign finance law, has not clarified whether this ban applies to PACs. The direction.

Typically, politicians cannot spend their campaign money on legal fees unless they are campaign-related, but many investigations involving Trump focus on his conduct as president and as a political candidate.

These issues could take years to resolve. Trump appointed all six Republican commissioners to the 12-member FEC panel during his presidency.

Trump is being treated unfairly, major donor says

Hotelier Robert Bigelow told Reuters on Tuesday that he gave Trump $1 million for his legal fees and agreed to give another $20 million to a pro-Trump outside group for campaign purposes .

“I gave him $1 million for his legal fees a few weeks ago. I promised to give him $20 million more, which will go to the super PAC,” said the owner of Budget Suites of America , based in Nevada, in an interview.

Bigelow said he felt Trump was unfairly targeted in criminal cases and that his sympathy for the former president motivated the donation.

Trump received an $83 million verdict last week in a civil defamation case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, and a judge is expected to rule at any time on the New York attorney general’s demand for $370 million. of dollars in sanctions for his false statements to banks about his net worth, a case where there was already a finding of fraud on one of the main counts.

Although those rulings will be appealed, Trump also saw a change in his legal representation. Attorney Joseph Tacopina said last month that he was withdrawing from representing Trump in two of the former president’s ongoing legal battles.

WATCH l Trump raises funds following his legal problems, his feelings of persecution:

Chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton speaks with Josh Wingrove and Melody Barnes about Trump’s defamation lawsuit and much more.

Get the latest news on CBCNews.ca, the CBC News app and CBC News Network for the latest news and analysis.

Trial dates in question

Trump is scheduled to appear in federal court on March 4 on a four-count criminal indictment alleging he conspired to defraud the United States by preventing Congress from certifying Biden’s 2020 election victory, but courts are considering whether Trump is immune from criminal prosecution for actions while president.

Three federal judges heard arguments on the issue last month and have yet to rule. It is possible that the issue will then go before the full Federal Appeals Commission and the Supreme Court for a final opinion, making the March 4 date highly unlikely.

On March 25, he will face trial in New York on charges of falsifying business records to conceal secret payments related to alleged extramarital affairs that he did not want made public during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump’s potential presidential immunity does not come into play for a trial scheduled for May 20 on allegations that he illegally retained government documents after leaving the presidency in early 2021. But the pace of pretrial rulings has put off in question the maintenance of this start date.

Trump also faces a 13-count indictment that details alleged actions he took to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. No date has yet been set for this trial.

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