President Donald Trump is using campaign funds from his donors, as well as donations made to the Republican National Committee, in order to pay his legal fees, Reuters is reporting.
The move is not wholly illegal: the Federal Election Commission does allow the use of campaign funds to help pay for legal fees of any candidate or official who is already holding an elected office.
The move by Trump to use his campaign donations, as well as those of the RNC, to pay his legal fees is, however, significant in two major ways.
First, it possibly explains why Trump is still in vigorous campaign-mode, even though he’s been in office for less than a full year. Although it is assumed that incumbents will run again, typically presidents don’t begin prepping for reelection campaigns until they’re further into their term. Trump announced his reelection campaign, however, in the first week of his presidency — more than two years earlier than any other president in the past 38 years.
Second, the revelation by Reuters today demonstrates that Trump’s legal fees are possibly more expensive than we originally imagined — which allows us to speculate that the probe into his campaign possibly colluding with Russia is more fretful for the president than what he leads us to believe. Trump has frequently characterized the investigation as “fake news,” tweeting several times that the probe is a non-story.
In March, Trump called the story dishonest, singling out specific news networks for continuing on what he called a “biased” story.
Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2017
In April, Trump called the investigation a “total scam.”
It is the same Fake News Media that said there is "no path to victory for Trump" that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2017
Trump also said in May that the Democrats were using the story as an excuse for their loss last fall:
Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
Yet if Trump is using his own campaign dollars, and donations made to the RNC, to pay for his legal fees, it seems clear that his assertions that the story is “fake news” is itself a fabrication made by Trump.
Indeed, sources to Reuters indicate that public filings, due to be made in October, will reveal just how much the president has spent his own campaign dollars on to help build a legal defense strategy in regards to the Russia investigation.
At the end of June, Trump had raised more than $4 million in campaign cash since becoming president, Reuters reports.