WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump’s connected committees spent almost $27 million on lawyers’ bills and related legal fees in the last six months of 2023, according to fresh federal election reports, pushing the total for a year that saw four distinct indictments to nearly $50 million.
The former president’s campaign fundraising machine is massive, but recent papers show that the cost of lawyers is weighing on the Republican presidential contender. Nonetheless, Trump has used the legal proceedings against him as a powerful fundraising weapon, with his booking in a Georgia election lawsuit earning him what his campaign claimed was a record single-day haul.
Save America PAC, one of Trump’s fundraising entities, spent $24.3 million on “legal consulting” in the final six months of 2023, according to federal election reports. This includes payments to firms that include lawyers such as John Lauro, who is representing Trump in the case involving his attempt to overturn the 2020 election; Todd Blanche, who also represents Trump in the New York hush money case; and Alina Habba, who represents Trump in the defamation case filed against him by author E. Jean Carroll and has appeared at his criminal arraignments.
While the Save America PAC raised $36 million in the last six months, Make America Great Again Inc., a Trump super PAC, contributed $30 million in six monthly contributions. While Save America provided early funding for MAGA Inc. when it first began during Trump’s presidential campaign, it appears that much of the money has been returned to Save America, which has been the principal vehicle for paying Trump’s legal bills. In the first six months of 2023, Save America PAC received more than $12 million from MAGA Inc.
Save America completed the year with only $5 million in cash, having spent $35.2 million in total in the second half of 2023, nearly equal to the amount raised.
In addition to Save America’s legal spending, another Trump-affiliated nonprofit, the Make America Great Again PAC (which, under federal law, Trump can raise money for and say how it is spent), spent $2.4 million on further legal advice in the second half of 2023.
Trump’s committees have already reported spending more than $20 million in legal expenses in the first half of 2023.
Both groups also paid millions of dollars in legal costs to another company that handles campaign finance compliance and prepares disclosures for campaigns. It was unclear whether the legal fees were related to compliance with federal campaign finance laws or inquiries into Trump’s attempt to overthrow the 2020 election.
According to its filing, a fund set up to reimburse some of Trump’s aides’ legal bills generated more than $1.6 million between July and December. The Patriot Legal Defense Fund does not pay to Trump’s legal expenditures.
The filings reveal the financial burden of Trump’s legal defense in four criminal cases, including two indictments connected to his efforts to reverse his 2020 presidential election loss and one for his handling of confidential data after leaving the White House. He has also been the target of a civil fraud action in Manhattan involving Trump’s firm.
Trump’s legal troubles have also drawn him away from the campaign trail and into courtrooms, monopolizing resources and diverting his attention with legal fights.
Nikki Haley, Trump’s Republican primary challenger, has criticized Trump’s legal expenses, writing on X this week, “He can’t beat Joe Biden if he’s spending all his time and money on court cases and chaos.”
Despite early setbacks to Trump in Iowa and New Hampshire, Haley has continued to gather funds, even as the former president threatens to blacklist her donors.