One thing is certain these days – working as the Trump family legal counsel means virtually guaranteed employment security. According to a recent report filed with the Federal Election Commission, “Donald J. Trump For President, Inc.” spent almost $700,000 on legal fees during the second quarter of this year – a 100% increase from the previous quarter. Nearly 15% of that was spent on representation for his son, Donald Trump Jr..
On June 27, Trump wrote a check for $50,000 to the law offices of Alan S. Futerfas, who represents Donald Jr. in the current investigations into his involvement with Russian officials. Significantly, that payment was made prior to current revelations of Donald Jr.’s meeting with Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
It gets better. According to the filing, the re-election committee also paid the Trump Corporation almost $90,000 for “legal consulting.” You may recall that Donald Jr. and his brother Eric have been running that company.
While it is common for election committees to reimburse individuals and companies (even those owned and run by candidates and/or their families) for expenses such as meals, transportation, and lodging, this is the first time that the Trump re-election campaign has reported making payments for legal services.
There is nothing illegal about paying lawyers from campaign funds – provided those costs were incurred from activities related to the campaign. For example, the FEC filing also shows payments of just over $538,000 having been made to Jones-Day this past May and June, which provided legal services for the campaign organization during Trump’s run for office.
On May 26th, the Washington Post reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee asked the Trump campaign organization to provide documents, including emails and telephone records. Under the law, payments for legal representation before the committee in this case could constitute a legitimate expense.
Since Trump the Younger met with Russian agents because he had hoped to get some dirt on Hillary Clinton that might help Dad’s election, it could also be argued that the recent payment to Futerfas’ firm would also be considered a legitimate legal expense – even though the meeting itself and its purpose would appear to be highly illegal.
Might that be why Trump the Elder decided to hire new counsel? If so, why was he in such a hurry? Why did he do it before those damning emails had come to light? And why hasn’t the Futerfas firm offered any comment to the media (aside from lawyer-client privilege)?
Here is the real kicker: in the spirit of Trump’s fake populism, his campaign committee has been hitting up donors for contributions in order to “carry on the battle” against “The Establishment” and “fake news.” During Q2 of 2017, those donors forked over $13.4 million – approximately $677,000 of which went to pay for legal services.
It may turn out that a significant chunk of those payments to lawyers went to keep Donald Trump’s adult son out of trouble. If that is the case and Trump’s supporters are footing the bill, it means whoever actually said “there’s one born every minute” hadn’t seen anything yet.