Trump’s legal travails drained $51.2 million from his 2024 bid

Bill Allison | (TNS) Bloomberg News

WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s legal troubles have helped him raise millions of dollars from supporters, but paying to defend himself has siphoned $51.2 million from his White House comeback effort in the past year.

The Republican front-runner used his leadership political action committee, Save America, to pay $25.7 million in legal fees to fend of criminal and civil charges in the final six months of 2023, according to a disclosure filed with the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday. The entity covered $25.5 million worth of legal fees in the first half of the year.

The more than $50 million in legal expenditures from Trump’s PAC in 2023 represent a significant sum of the money raised that year for his reelection. Save America began January with only $5.1 million in the bank and the prospect of additional legal bills, suggesting that Trump would have to rapidly raise more money to support the ongoing costs.

Save America took in $36.7 million over the final six months of 2023, meaning that 70% of the PAC’s receipts went to fund Trump’s legal matters, which include four separate indictments with a total of 91 criminal counts, as well as other civil cases.

The bulk of the money, some $30 million, were refunds of money Save America donated to Trump’s super PAC in 2022. Campaign finance laws allow committees to refund donations they’ve received. The sums of money refunded to Save America are unprecedented.

Trump has made his legal troubles the center of his fundraising pitches. So far, it’s worked. In the days after a Manhattan grand jury indicted him over allegations of hush-money payments charges to an adult-film star, the campaign announced it had raised $15.4 million.

It reporting raising $6.6 million after the former president was indicted on 37 felony counts related to mishandling classified materials. Trump also raised $7.1 million after his arrest in Georgia in an indictment related to the election of 2020. A a widely publicized mug shot was taken at Fulton County jail.

Trump is raising money from grassroots donors to defray his legal expenses. Trump Save America Joint Fundraising Committee, the entity he uses to raise money from his legions of small-dollar donors, transferred $6.6 million to Save America. His online donors are currently told that 10% of the money they give will go to Save America, but does not specify it could cover legal fees.

Campaign finance laws allow committees to refund donations they’ve received, though the sums of money refunded to Save America are unprecedented.

Court proceedings will pull Trump off the campaign trail for much of 2024, but he has successfully used the criminal charges to paint himself as a victim of prosecutors, whom he accuses of political bias, in order to rally donors and voters.

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