The Republican National Committee is paying some of former President Donald Trump’s personal legal bills in a New York criminal probe, The Washington Post reports.
The RNC last month paid $121,670 to the law firm of Trump attorney Ronald Fischetti.
Fischetti is representing Trump amid an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James into Trump’s businesses. The RNC is not paying Trump’s legal bills in other court battles, including his attempt to block White House records from the House January 6 committee.
The New York probe does not deal with Trump’s presidency or campaigns but a source familiar with the RNC decision told the Post that the organization agreed to pay for some of the bills after James vowed to investigate Trump during her 2018 attorney general bid.
“I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings,” James vowed in her victory speech.
The RNC defended helping Trump pay his lawyer bills despite the billionaire holding more than $100 million in his political campaign account.
“As a leader of our party, defending President Trump and his record of achievement is critical to the GOP,” the RNC said in a statement to the Post. “It is entirely appropriate for the RNC to continue assisting in fighting back against the Democrats’ never ending witch hunt and attacks on him.”
Trump’s team also defended the arrangement.
“The RNC is our important partner in advancing America First policies and fighting back against the endless witch hunts,” Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said in a statement. “The Democrats have become obsessed with weaponizing their offices against President Trump, which is a complete abandonment of their Constitutional obligations.”
“A real stretch”:
The RNC previously helped pay legal fees for Trump and Donald Trump Jr. during the Russia investigation.
Though the RNC can spend donor money to defend the former president, party committees tend to avoid spending on personal use over fears that they could lose their tax-exempt status.
While the Russia probe was linked to Trump’s campaign and presidency, the idea that the New York probe is related to Trump’s campaign or his position in the party “seems like a real stretch,” Brendan Fischer, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center to the Post.