August 1, 2023
Former President Donald Trump’s PAC, Save America, spent more than $40 million on legal costs in the first half of 2023 to defend Trump, his advisers and others, according to people familiar with the matter—financing legal work that has drawn scrutiny from prosecutors about potential conflicts of interest between Trump and witnesses, reports The Washington Post.
Indeed, Save America was expected to disclose about $40.2 million in legal spending in a filing on Monday, August 1, said the people familiar with the filing, who like others interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss information that has not been made public.
That total is more than any other expense the PAC has incurred during Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and, according to federal filings from earlier this month, more than Trump’s campaign raised in the second quarter of 2023.
It will bring the PAC’s post-presidential legal spending to about $56 million, as Trump faces a federal indictment in Florida, state charges in New York, and the prospect of additional criminal indictments in Washington, D.C.,and Fulton County, Georgia.
Trump’s advisers say the costs of providing lawyers for dozens of people are necessary and will continue mushrooming as investigations continue, trials are scheduled, and the possibility of more charges looms.
While interviewing potential witnesses associated with Trump, prosecutors have raised pointed questions about who is paying for their lawyers and why, people familiar with the questions said. Trump advisers told The Washington Post that the PAC, which raises most of its money from small-dollar contributions by Trump supporters across the country, is footing the legal bills for almost anyone drawn into the investigations who requests help from the former president and his advisers.
In an indictment unsealed on Thursday, July 27—charging Trump, his longtime valet Waltine “Walt” Nauta, and his property manager Carlos De Oliveira in the classified documents case—authorities allege that Trump called De Oliveira last August to say he would pay for De Oliveira’s attorney. That same day, authorities said; Nauta had a conversation with a different Trump employee, who assured Nauta that De Oliveira was loyal to Trump.
Lawyers for De Oliveira and Nauta declined to comment, as did a spokesperson for Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the federal investigations of Trump.
Steven Cheung, a spokesperson for the former president, said Save America was paying legal fees for those who worked for Trump “to protect these innocent people from financial ruin and prevent their lives from being completely destroyed” by what he called “unlawful harassment” from investigators.
Trump and his campaign have long accused Justice Department and FBI officials of pursuing politically motivated investigations of him. “They know they have no legitimate case,” Cheung said.
The PAC’s own fundraising and creation are under investigation, the Post has reported, although the group has not been accused of wrongdoing. Much of the money it is using to pay for legal bills was raised on false claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
Paul Seamus Ryan, a campaign finance expert, said he didn’t necessarily see any “legal red flags” with the spending, noting that Trump had wide berth to spend money on legal fees—but that it was far more than any other 2024 presidential candidate would be spending at this point.
“It’s an extraordinary sum of money,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s up to the donors to decide if that’s the way they want their money spent. My sense is if you’re giving money to Trump in 2023, you’re fine with it.”
Research contact: @washingtonpost