Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump’s political action committees have combined to spend just over $ 7.9 million on legal fees, much of which goes to lawyers who tried to overturn the 2020 election and defended him during his second impeachment trial.
Four committees linked to Trump made the payments in the first half of 2021, according to the documents. The Make America Great Again PAC paid just over $ 7.8 million of total legal expenses. The committee is Trump’s former campaign account. His team turned him into a PAC earlier this year.
Trump’s executive PAC, Save America, spent just over $ 50,000 on legal fees, while his sister joint fundraising committees contributed around $ 40,000. The Trump Make America Great Again committee, which raised funds with the Republican National Committee, spent nearly $ 37,000 on legal fees.
Trump announced this weekend that his committees have raised nearly $ 82 million and have more than $ 100 million available. The former president used fundraising promotions during his election challenge and impeachment to raise money for the two legal efforts.
Payments began in early January after several lawsuits against Trump and his Republican allies were launched in key states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Michigan. The checks continued to be turned over to law firms during Trump’s impeachment trial, where he was impeached a second time by the House and exonerated by the Senate. Some payments to legal advisers were as recent as in June.
Asked about the legal costs, Jason Miller, spokesman for Trump, highlighted the fight for impeachment. The House, largely along party lines, impeached Trump for inciting the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. The Senate acquitted him, but some Republicans joined Democrats in passing the conviction.
“It’s a shame that National Democrats, obsessed with trying to stop President Trump from running and winning again in 2024, continued another failed impeachment effort earlier this year. partisanship has been firmly defeated and President Trump has been completely exonerated, these things have cost a lot of money, ”Miller said in an email Monday.
Trump’s lawyers reaped a windfall in his impeachment trial.
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, a company founded by longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz, received $ 2.5 million from Trump’s Make America Great Again PAC. Eric Herschmann, a partner at the firm, was hired by Trump in January to attend the first legal impeachment defense in 2020. He then joined Trump’s White House as a senior advisor, and it’s still unclear. what the payment was for.
Miller and Kasowitz did not respond to requests for comment on the payment to the company.
MAGA PAC paid Michael van der Veen’s law firms just over $ 575,000. Van der Veen and Bruce Castor, who also works in the firm, were part of the Second Trump impeachment defense team.
David Schoen, another member of Trump’s impeachment team, was paid over $ 100,000 by the former president’s PAC.
None of the FEC’s files show payments for legal services to Rudy Giuliani, who called the president a client and publicly challenged the election results.
The former New York mayor has been suspended from practicing law in the state after his false election statements. He is under investigation for failing to register as a lobbyist for entities seeking various Ukraine-related actions, including the removal of the US ambassador under Trump.
The Make America Great Again PAC paid Giuliani’s security company, Giuliani Security & Safety, just over $ 76,000 for travel expenses. “Mayor Giuliani was only reimbursed for the expenses,” Miller told CNBC. Giuliani had said he would work for Trump for free.
Jenna Ellis, one of Trump’s legal advisers at the recount, received more than $ 22,000 for her services.
In an email to CNBC, Ellis defended the former president and the payments she received.
“I was paid in full according to the terms of my representation. President Trump has always treated me with fairness and respect for my work and my advocacy for him. He is the best boss I have ever had,” he said. Ellis said on Monday.
Elections LLC, whose Center for Responsive Politics says was started by former Trump Deputy White House attorney Stefan Passantino, has received more than $ 200,000 this year between multiple Trump PACs, according to the new records. FEC documents do not say whether the payments were tied to the election. Passantino did not respond to requests for comment.
A website that tracks lawyers who worked on efforts to overthrow Trump’s election shows that many of those lawyers were paid six figures for legal fights they ended up losing. In February, the Make America Great Again PAC paid the Hilbert law firm just under $ 380,000 for legal aid with the recount.
This company waged failed legal battles in Georgia. According to the Wall Street Journal, Kurt Hilbert, one of the company’s founders, was in an infamous January phone call between Trump and Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump urged Raffensperger to overturn then-President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
“I would like to suggest that only four categories that have already been mentioned by the President that actually have hard numbers of 24,149 votes that were counted illegally. That in itself is enough to change the results or cast doubt on the result, Hilbert said during the call, according to the Journal transcript.
Hilbert declined to comment on payments made by PAC to his company. But he again pushed the idea that there were electoral irregularities in Georgia.
“This evidence cannot be ignored,” Hilbert told CNBC in an email.
Courts, state election authorities and the US Department of Justice have all said there was no evidence the election was rigged against Trump.
True North Law, who fought a failed bout in the swing state of Michigan, was paid over $ 270,000 for his services in January by the same committee. Harvey & Binnall, who was embroiled in a failed legal battle in Nevada, received more than $ 300,000 in January-June payments from the Trump PAC, according to the documents.
True North Law did not respond to requests for comment.