President Donald Trump appears to have used more than half a million dollars in campaign funds to pay legal fees over the last three months, new campaign filings show.
The spending included $50,000 in legal expenses to lawyer Alan Futerfas, who is now representing Donald Trump Jr., on June 27th.
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Trump disclosed $677,826 million in payments described in filings as “legal consulting” between April and June of 2017 – a significant chunk of the $4.37 million his campaign spent overall – as the number and velocity of investigations into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election increased.
The campaign spent significantly more in this area during the late spring and summer than during the first three months of the year, when it reported paying $249,344 on legal expenses. Trump has spent more than $4.5 million of campaign funds on legal costs since the beginning of his campaign.
Trump’s campaign reported paying $538,265 in the last three months to Jones Day, the campaign’s law firm, up from $190,306 in the first quarter of 2017.
Trump’s campaign and two affiliated joint fundraising committees disclosed raising $13.9 million on Saturday.
So long as Trump is only paying expenses incurred from the parts of the investigation related to his campaign, it’s legal for the president to use his campaign donations to pay legal expenses or the legal expenses for Trump Jr., said Larry Noble, senior director at the Campaign Legal Center.
“They’re obviously increasing the number of lawyers they have working for them,” Noble said. “And [Trump] seems to be, to a certain extent, churning through lawyers – so this could get expensive.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The Trump campaign made the payment to Futerfas two weeks before The New York Times reported an exchange between Trump Jr. and a Russian official about arranging a meeting to discuss damaging research on the Clinton campaign. Futerfas’ involvement was first reported by Reuters on July 10th.
The new filings say payments were made for “legal consulting,” a vague term that could encompass a variety of expenses—including, possibly, settlement payments for cases brought against the Trump campaign.
The $50,000 was paid to Futerfas on June 27th — just three days before the filing deadline. Additionally, the campaign paid $89,561 on June 30th to the Trump Corporation for legal consulting.
Since the payments were made within days of the end of the filing period, they may represent only a small portion of the amount that is now being billed to Trump’s campaign by Futerfas and the Trump Corporation.
The payments to the Trump Corporation could be for lawyers employed by the corporation working on campaign-related issues such as the Russia probe, or possibly to reimburse other lawyers hired by the Trump Corporation whose names are not disclosed in the filing. Campaign finance records do not show any prior payments for legal services made from the campaign to the Trump Corporation in the past.
The Trump campaign racked up multiple lawsuits, including suits stemming from violent incidents at rallies and alleged copyright infringement. In one case, a former campaign staffer alleged the campaign failed to act when Trump’s North Carolina state director twice pulled a gun on campaign employees.