A recent report details how donations to the Republican National Committee are going toward much more than campaign efforts, being used instead to fund the legal fees for many former White House officials.
The Washington Post reported over the weekend that nearly half a million dollars from the RNC has been paid out to a law firm called Trout Cacheris & Janis. Representation from that law firm has been hired out by former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, as well as three other former aides to President Donald Trump, to help them navigate the legal proceedings related to the Russia investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller (as well as the current investigation in the Senate and former investigation in the House).
It’s not the first time that donations from Republican supporters have been used for purposes other than funding political campaigns — Trump previously used campaign cash to fund his own businesses, which included shuffling 2016 RNC campaign donations to help cover the costs of his own campaign after doing so.
There is nothing illegal about using campaign donations to cover legal costs. But it’s likely that those who gave to the RNC over the past year didn’t expect their hard-earned dollars ($451,780 so far) to go toward helping Hicks and others pay for their lawyers. The revelation that hundreds of thousands of fundraising dollars are going to pay for these fees could cause would-be donors to think twice about giving in the months before a critical midterm election.
There’s another wrinkle to this story as well: Were Hicks and the other former Trump officials not receiving this aide from the RNC, they would likely need to pay for it out of their own pockets. Having the RNC do so instead makes it difficult for them to decide, if they wanted to, to work with the special counsel investigation. If they did cooperate, it’s likely their legal funds could possibly dry up as a punishment for going against the president.
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that the RNC is now a vehicle for Trump to use at his disposal in order to help those who were once close to him, using donations from others to do so. It’s indicative of just how manipulative this president is over the party he leads — and to what lengths the RNC is willing to go to in order to placate him.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters