Former President Donald Trump has been gone from the White House for 11 months, but his mountain of legal bills remains — and the Republican Party is continuing to pay them. During a recent discussion on "PBS NewsHour," host Amna Nawaz and the Washington Post's David Farenthold discussed some reasons why the 75-year-old ex-president is still costing his party a fortune in legal expenses.
Nawaz told Farenthold, "Your reporting has found that Mr. Trump's legal bills, up to the tune of $1.6 million, are being paid for by the Republican Party. Is there precedent for that?"
Fahrenthold responded, "There is no precedent for this…. Former President Trump is not a Republican candidate. He's not a Republican officeholder. And the investigations he is facing have nothing to do with his time in office. They all predate — they focus on his business in the years before he ran for president. So, there is no connection to the Republican Party or Republican officeholders involved here. But the Republican Party still is paying this money. And obviously, Trump has a pot of money in his packet. He has money in his business. He could afford this, but they are paying his bills anyway."
The Post reporter added that the GOP is "happy to pay his bills" because they "see this as a political attack on Trump."
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"What I think is really going on here is that Trump, although he is out of office and is not running, is a linchpin in Republican fundraising efforts," Fahrenthold told Nawaz. "He is the key to the (Republican National Committee)'s fundraising future. And if he were to turn on them — if he were to leave, if he were to talk bad about them — that could be devastating. So, they may be paying to sort of keep him in their — to keep themselves in his good graces."
Trump's company, the Trump Organization, is being aggressively probed by the Manhattan District Attorney's Office as well as New York State Attorney General Letitia James — and the company is facing both civil and criminal investigations. Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's long-time chief financial officer, was indicted for tax fraud, although Donald Trump himself has not been charged with anything in that investigation.
Noting that Trump may run for president again in 2024, Nawaz asked Fahrenthold if "these investigations or probes" could "impact his political future."
The Post reporter responded, "Certainly…. There may be things that would come out of these investigations or in a potential lawsuit or trial that would change the way people view him. He's also got other investigations focused on his conduct as president, both related to January 6 and the efforts to overturn the election. Those could also damage his political reputation. But I think we have watched Trump's career long enough to know that it's really hard to predict how damaging information about Trump, even true revelations about what he did, will affect how people vote."