President Donald Trump is reportedly paying his legal bills in the special counsel probe of Russian influence with donations to his re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee. Which is perfectly legal.
According to the Federal Election Commission, it's legal for politicians to use campaign funds for legal bills relating to their campaign, so long as the funds are not public contributions.
Election law experts told Reuters that Trump is the first president to use private campaign funds to cover the costs of a criminal investigation.
Please note: This is a commentary piece.
A spokesperson for the RNC declined to comment, but said the committee has already paid unspecified, non-Russia related litigation expenses for the campaign.
Disclosures through the end of June show Trump's campaign made a $50,000 payment to the law firm of the attorney representing Donald Trump Jr., dated nearly two weeks before news reports that he took a June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer who had promised damaging information about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Moscow has denied meddling in the USA election, and Trump denies any collusion or obstruction. Trump hired his longtime NY lawyer Marc Kasowitz to head his defense team in May, but Kasowitz stepped down in July, with Dowd taking over the lead role, according to a people familiar. Instead, they have built networks that collect millions of dollars from private donors, a move that comes with less restrictions on how the money is spent. For instance, Hillary Clinton's campaign made no payments to the firm representing her in the email scandal, according to the Reuters reporters. Trump's three fundraising committees ended June with $22.6 million of cash on hand, including $11.9 million just in his campaign coffers.
President Donald Trump may say he's a billionaire. Futerfas did not respond for requests for comment.
Other attorneys helping Dowd work on the probe include conservative constitutional lawyer Jay Sekulow and special White House counsel Ty Cobb, a salaried staffer.