Former President Trump Should Pay His Own Legal Bills and Use Campaign Donations to Fight Democrats

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

As the GOP heads into the final stretch before the presidential primary season, it is in a state of disarray that is nearly unimaginable. In a normal election year, if our presidential candidate were going into the election with almost 100 percent name recognition and most of the base and a good number of independents locked in, to face an incumbent who has presided over foreign policy and economic devastation, in addition to showing signs of dementia and presiding over what amounts to a family criminal enterprise when he was vice president, I'd be enthusiastic. 

But this is not any normal year. The front-runner for the nomination is the highly polarizing former president Donald Trump. Offsetting Trump's incredible support from the GOP and conservative base is his ability to attract ordinarily apathetic voters to the polling place to vote against him. The Republican National Committee is a political Chornobyl. It mismanaged the 2022 election, losing House seats that should have been won and blowing Senate races ripe for the plucking. But that wasn't enough. It is in the process of presiding over a nomination process that seems designed as some sort of joke.

Perry Johnson? Seriously?

Making matters worse, Trump is besieged by legal problems. At last count, two days ago, he was facing 91 felony charges in four different jurisdictions in addition to at least one civil suit (Even if Donald Trump Avoids Prison, Will He Be Allowed to Run for President?). More may have been filed since Thursday, but I didn't have the strength to check. In addition to the criminal charges, his very existence on the ballot of as many as 20 states because of challenges filed under Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment is an open question that will cloud the general election.

But of particular concern are Trump's legal problems. They have led to a situation where a significant portion of the funds donated to Trump's Save America PAC is underwriting his legal defense; see REPORT: Legal Fees Dominate Spending by Trump's PAC.

The Washington Post reports that the Federal Election Commission filing due Monday will show that Save America PAC spent $40.2 million on legal services. If true, this would indicate that his PAC spent over $4 million more than the $35 million it raised in Second Quarter 2023. The known legal expense of President Trump since he left office is about $56 million.

As a sign that more and larger legal expenses are on the way, the New York Times reports that former President Trump’s Save America PAC has asked his Make America Great Again super PAC to return $60 million in donations made to the super PAC by the PAC. We don’t yet know how much, if any, of the super PAC donations were returned.

More on that subject can be found at FEC Reports Confirm Legal Expenses Are Crushing Trump's Massive Fundraising Operation and Trump’s Campaign Is Drowning in Legal Fees: Can His Candidacy Survive?

This situation led to an interesting mini-debate on Twitter on Thursday. 

Thursday, President Trump made a general appeal for other candidates to drop out of the race.

Conservative talk show host Jesse Kelly brought up a good point.

Even without the legal problems, if this appeal had been made in 2016 and anyone had listened to it, our candidate would have been Jeb Bush or Scott Walker.

The answer he got was stunning to me and to a lot of other people.

To be clear, this is not a dig at Matt Schlapp. I've met him once, in passing, and largely admire what he's done to make CPAC a major event. That said, I'm not sure how many people are willing to open their wallets to fund legal expenses for former president Trump. I know I'm not. I also think the assertion that the Democrats are indicting all Trump Republicans is unfounded. I can identify a few hundred in Congress and state governments who are not facing felony indictments. I want the money I give to be used to win elections up and down the ballot even if, as I think will happen, we lose the race for the White House to a man who has not been able to tell butterscotch from baby-sh** for several years. Trump is a billionaire; he should dig into his personal wealth to defend himself and use donor money to win races.

None of this means I won't support Trump if he's the nominee. I will. In Ireland, before partition, there was a slogan, "Put him in to get him out." British law didn't allow members of Parliament to be imprisoned, so the Irish Republican movement would run imprisoned leaders for office to spring them from jail if elected. I'm perfectly willing to vote for a Trump who is either on trial or even convicted. 

But I do think it is unseemly that the lion's share of funds donated to Trump's PAC is going to law firms trying to keep Trump out of jail and calling for everyone else to drop out of the race to free up money to continue that, in my view, quixotic struggle is just wrong.



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