President Donald Trump's re-election campaign this year continued big spending on lawyers, with more than 20 percent of all expenditures in the first quarter going to legal fees, according to documents filed Sunday with the Federal Election Commission.
Trump's campaign spent a total of $3.9 million through the end of March, with $834,000 going to eight law firms and the Trump Corp. for legal expenses, according to the documents. The Trump Corp. - owned by the president and run by sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. - collected $24,000.
Trump's campaign is pouring money into lawyers amid the special counsel's intensifying investigation into possible Kremlin collusion with the campaign and obstruction of justice, and entanglements with adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and her fight to tell her story. The campaign has spent a total of some $4 million in legal fees since Trump took office, according to The Washington Post.
In 2018, more than $280,000 was paid to the law firm of Larocca, Hornik, Rosen, Greenberg & Blaha and another firm owned by Charles Harder, which represent Trump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen in the court fight with Daniels. She wants to invalidate a $130,000 agreement to keep her relationship with Trump secret. Harder represented Hulk Hogan in an invasion of privacy case against Gawker, which ended up bankrupting the media company.
An additional $348,000 was paid to the law firm of Jones Day, which is representing the campaign in special counsel Robert Mueller's election probe and in congressional investigations.
The White House said last year, before the Daniels court battle began, that Trump would begin paying his own legal expenses in the Mueller probe, after the Republican National Committee shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars for attorneys for him. It's not clear whether Trump is actually paying his lawyers, considering the campaign's high legal spending.
Trump also said then that he would set up a legal defense fund for members of his staff, but he was informed that could be a conflict of interest in case any personnel may be called to testify against him.
The campaign s pent nearly $150,000 at businesses owned by the president this year, including for lodging, catering and rent at properties that include the Trump International Hotel in Washington and Trump Tower in Manhattan.
A consulting company owned by Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale was paid $1.7 million for digital and advertising services, according to the finance records.
Trump's former personal aide, John McEntee, who was bounced out of the White House early last month amid an investigation reportedly for "serious financial crimes," was paid $22,000 by the campaign in late March, CNN noted.
The campaign raised $10.1 million in the first quarter, and has $28.3 million in the bank, according to the records.
Trump's campaign and two fundraising committees that jointly raise funds with the Republican National Committee collected a total of nearly $20.2 million in the first quarter, the Post reported.