RNC reportedly agrees to pay up to $ 1.6 million in personal legal bills from Trump

The Republican National Committee has agreed to cover up to $ 1.6 million of Donald J. Trump’s personal legal bills, according to a person familiar with the matter, in an unusual arrangement where the party pays to defend the former president has ongoing investigations that focus on his private business practices.

The first payments, in the amount of $ 121,670, were made in October to the office of Mr. Trump’s attorney, Ronald P. Fischetti, and were made public last month to the Federal Election Commission.

The Republican Party’s decision to cover up to $ 1.6 million in legal fees was first reported by The Washington Post on Thursday and was confirmed by the person familiar with the matter, who spoke out under cover of anonymity to discuss private negotiations.

Emma Vaughn, spokesperson for RNC, said in a statement that the party’s executive committee approved “payment of certain legal fees” related to Mr. Trump.

“As the leader of our party, standing up for President Trump and his accomplishments is essential for the GOP,” she said. “It is only fitting that the RNC continues to help fight the Democrats’ endless witch-hunt and attacks against it.”

Mr Fischetti represents Mr Trump as Manhattan prosecutors assess the possibility of charging him with fraud. The question is whether he inflated the value of his assets to defraud lenders, according to people familiar with the investigation. Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Cyrus R. Vance Jr. has questioned one of Mr. Trump’s accountants before a grand jury in recent weeks.

In a parallel civil fraud investigation, New York State Attorney General Letitia James, whose office is also involved in the criminal investigation, seeks to question Mr. Trump under oath. The former president accused the two investigations of being politically motivated, and many Republican leaders echoed his arguments.

“Letitia James wants to politicize her position as attorney general instead of being an example of fairness and protecting the interests of all New Yorkers,” Trump said in a statement Wednesday.

A spokesperson for Mr. Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Mr. Fischetti declined to comment. The Republican National Committee will disclose its November expenses, including Mr. Trump’s attorney fees, by December 20.

Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an expert in legal ethics, said the payments did not necessarily raise an ethical issue from a legal point of view, as long as the party did not in any way influence Mr. Trump’s lawyers neither obtained access. confidential information that may arise during investigations.

But the payments showed Mr. Trump’s enduring grip on the party he led for four years in the White House. The party continues to rely heavily on its name and popularity in its online fundraising appeals. He’s also a lure to major donors, and headlined the Republican National Congressional Committee’s fall fundraiser last month in Florida.

Daron Shaw, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin and a former strategist for George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004, said the payments indicated Mr. Trump’s “complete mastery of the party apparatus”.

“Organizationally, the Republican Party is still a 100% affiliate of Donald Trump for the president,” said Professor Shaw. “Until the next heir to the throne is apparent, he is still the king.”

Adonna Biel, spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee, said that “if we were the donors to the RNC, we would definitely ask questions.”

In the past, several attorneys for Mr. Trump have clashed with him over their legal fees. In 2019, his former personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen sued the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump’s family business, claiming that the company had failed to honor an agreement to cover its legal fees. In May, the New York Times reported that another lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, had pressured the former president’s aides to pay him for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election results.

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