The Republican Party is shelling out some major cash to help Donald Trump contend with investigations into his private business practices. The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the GOP has agreed to put as much as $1.6 million toward the former president’s legal bills pertaining to two probes into the Trump Organization’s operations in New York.
The Post reported last month that the Republican National Committee was paying for some of Trump’s legal bills, but noted that it had made two payments in October totaling $121,670 to a law firm Trump hired in April. The report on Thursday adds that a month later the RNC paid $578,000 to attorneys representing Trump and his businesses, that the money will keep flowing in the coming months, and that the total could very well exceed the $1.6 million already authorized.
The $1.6 million authorization came this summer during a meeting of the party’s executive committee in Nashville. Its members voted “overwhelmingly” in favor of footing Trump’s personal legal bills, according to the Post.
“The RNC’s Executive Committee approved paying for certain legal expenses that relate to politically motivated legal proceedings waged against President Trump,” Emma Vaughn, a GOP spokeswoman, said in a statement provided to the Post on Thursday. “As a leader of our party, defending President Trump and his record of achievement is critical to the GOP. It is entirely appropriate for the RNC to continue assisting in fighting back against the Democrats’ never-ending witch hunt and attacks on him.”
Trump’s “record of achievement” is not the issue, though. The investigations have nothing to do with his time in office or any of his political dealings. They involve potential financial crimes perpetrated by his private business. New York Attorney General Letitia James is reportedly seeking to depose Trump as her office’s civil probe into whether the Trump Organization fraudulently doctored the valuations of various properties. Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance is leading a criminal investigation. Earlier this week, the Post reported that a longtime Trump accountant testified before a grand jury as part of that case, which is also looking into the Trump Organization’s financial practices.
The RNC’s footing Trump’s legal bills may be part of what’s keeping him tethered to the party. According to Betrayal, Jonathan Karl’s new book on the end of Trump’s presidency, Trump on his final day in office told RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel he was leaving the party because Republicans weren’t “sticking up” for him. McDaniel and other members of the RNC’s leadership spent the ensuing days impressing upon the newly former president that if he left the GOP he would no longer have access to the party’s mailing list and the party would stop paying for his lawsuits contesting the election results.
Trump stuck around, and the RNC is now not only paying for lawsuits contesting the election, but it’s also paying for legal expenses pertaining to the former president’s private business.