President Donald Trump has commandeered an astonishing $58.4 million in campaign donations for legal and compliance fees, The New York Times reported Saturday.
The president has treated campaign coffers like his own “piggy bank,” sending millions to law firms for whatever battle he wants to fight, including some protecting his own interests, according to the Times.
The legal fees are in addition to the contributions that Trump is funneling into his own pockets by charging his campaign and the Republican National Committee for lodging, event space and catering. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort hoovered up some $400,000 in just two days for a campaign event earlier this year. As of last year, his businesses had collected nearly $17 million since he launched his first presidential campaign.
His campaign is also paying Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, $180,000 a year each for work, HuffPost has reported.
As for legal expenses, Trump had lawyers seek $1 million in damages from a former campaign aide who had accused another aide of sexual harassment and discrimination, the Times reported.
Trump also reportedly lassoed campaign donations to help him fight a California law that would have blocked him from running in the state unless he released his tax returns. That fight and others handled by the same firm cost his campaign and the RNC $1.8 million in legal fees, according to the Times.
In addition, the president and campaign associates hired lawyers to aid staff and family members — including Donald Trump Jr. and son-in-law Jared Kushner — when they were targeted in Russia and Ukraine probes. The RNC has already paid some $2.5 million in legal bills for that and other legal work, according to the Times.
The president has racked up a total in legal and compliance fees of at least $58.4 million since 2015 from Trump campaign and RNC contributions, according to data gathered by the Times and the Campaign Finance Institute.
Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee spent a fraction of that — $10.7 million — on legal and compliance expenses in the same period of time beginning in 2007.
“Vindicating President Trump’s personal interests is now so intertwined with the interests of the Republican Party they are one and the same — and that includes the legal fights the party is paying for now,” campaign finance lawyer Matthew T. Sanderson told the Times.
The White House refused to respond to the Times’ request for comment.
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