Donald Trump is having a terrible week financially. He thought he was going to get by with sending that Gold Star father the $25,000 check he promised and then never sent, but now he’s down an additional four tenths of a mil. Trump has promised to match the outlay of $430,000 spent by the RNC defending himself and Donald Jr. so far with his own funds. Additionally, Trump says he’ll defray legal costs incurred by campaign associates and White House staff in regards to the FBI’s Trump Russia investigation. Axios:
What we know: The Republican National Committee has paid roughly $430,000 to lawyers representing the president and his eldest son, Don Jr. A White House official told me Trump will not be reimbursing the RNC for these costs. However, the White House official says he has pledged to spend the same amount, from his personal finances, "to defray the costs of legal fees for his associates, including former and current White House aides."
To understand the details of the RNC's payments for Trump and his son's lawyers, read this WashPost report — the substance of which the RNC confirmed to Axios.
What we don't know: The president and his legal team haven't announced the mechanism to make these payments. The arrangement raises a number of questions, none of which the White House official answered:
- Is the plan to put this money into a general legal defense fund that all of the president's associates could request access to, or will the money be disbursed directly to attorneys?
- $430,000 is a relatively small amount, given the ballooning legal fees of Trump's associates who are under the most intense investigation. Will Trump's legal fund pay the bills of associates with the most expensive legal fees, including Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort?
The mechanism by which to make payments is something that has always confounded Donald Trump. It’s doubtful that this will be any different. The White House is now “working on appropriate legal and ethical approval” to dispense the funds. By matching the $430,000 expended already by RNC, Trump’s legal costs are now offically $860,000 and rising. The Republican party had hoped to have the Trump Russia investigation resolved by the end of the year. That doesn’t seem even remotely feasible now. That investigation is not wrapping up — it’s just getting started.