A new report reveals that President Donald Trump has used donations to both the Republican National Committee and his 2020 reelection campaign to cover the legal costs related to the probe into the Russia scandal.
The Republican National Committee paid $131,250 to the law firm employing Jay Sekulow and $100,000 to the law firm employing John Down, according to CNN. Both men represent Trump in his ongoing legal battles over alleged collusion between his presidential campaign and the Russian government, although some of the fee to the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group (Sekulow's firm) went to compensate other attorneys there for their work on Trump's case.
RNC funds have also gone toward compensating the legal team representing Donald Trump Jr. This includes Alan Futerfas, who was paid $166,527.50, and the law firm Williams & Jensen, which was paid $30,102.90.
RNC spokesperson Cassie Smedile told Reuters that the money going to Trump's lawyers comes "from a pre-existing legal proceedings account and do not reduce by a dime the resources we can put towards our political work." Reuters also reported that Trump had used money donated to his reelection campaign for legal expenses in addition to those donated to the RNC.
While it is indeed legal for private campaign funds to be used for legal bills, it is unprecedented in the modern era for a president to use those funds for defense against a criminal probe. In the past, campaign funds have been used to cover legal expenses pertaining to ballot and compliance issues, as well as other legal matters that normally arise during the course of conducting a political campaign.