The probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 election may be a “nothingburger” according to the Trump administration, but that hasn’t stopped the President and the Republican National Committee from spending an untold number of donor dollars on defending the President.
Let’s make a couple things clear — these expenditures are legal, are related to the campaign, and are ethical. Unfortunately, they also undercut the argument from the Trump administration that this investigation isn’t serious.
U.S. President Donald Trump is using money donated to his reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The U.S. Federal Election Commission allows the use of private campaign funds to pay legal bills arising from being a candidate or elected official.
While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump would be the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts.
Unusual times call for unusual measures. President Trump is facing a relatively serious criminal probe that directly delves into the actions of people on his campaign. It’s only logical for legal expenses to come from campaign funds, although some might wonder if the man who broke his promise to self-finance his campaign could just pay for all of this himself.
You also have to wonder how folks who are contributing to the Republican National Committee in hopes of holding the House and Senate in 2018 would treat the news that their money is going into paying Trump’s legal bills. The fundamental role of this committee is to elect Republicans. Defending the President is tangentially important to that, but not the core responsibility of the RNC.
As I said, this is all legal, but it paints a bad picture of a White House which has repeatedly tried to downplay the investigation.