Reuters is reporting that President Trump is using reelection campaign funds to pay legal bills associated with the Russia probe.
At first glance that sounds shady but apparently it’s totally copacetic with the Federal Elections Commission.
President Donald Trump is using money donated to his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, according to two people familiar with the matter.
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.
What makes this noteworthy is that Trump is the first to make use of the FEC provision to pay legal fees relating to a criminal probe.
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.
One person familiar with the matter said the first payments, the amount of which Reuters could not determine, has already been made and would be disclosed in public filings. The person did not explain how the costs would be allocated between the campaign and the RNC.
The Republican National Committee is expected to make its August spending public on Wednesday, and the Trump campaign is due for another disclosure on Oct. 15.
John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer, declined to say how the president’s legal bills were being paid, adding: “That’s none of your business.”
I think anyone who is a campaign donor might disagree. I would imagine that most people donating to Trump’s reelection are big enough supporters that they’d have no problem with their money going to defend Trump from the Russia probe. Being told it’s none of their business might cause a few to think twice before signing a check though. Using other people’s money should include some transparency.
It’s funny though, I still remember when Trump was going to self fund his campaign so he wouldn’t be beholden to donors. Now the donors aren’t just paying for a campaign, but a legal defense.