Donald Trump isn’t known for his generosity when it comes to legal matters — especially lately. He refused to pay Rudy Giuliani for his post-election work spreading voter fraud conspiracy theories (Giuliani has said the former president “ordered” him to do it pro bono). He’s also been successfully milking the Republican Party to pay for his battles against two investigations into his company’s dealings in New York.
Trump isn’t forking over any financial help to allies who have been targeted by the Jan. 6 committee, either. CNN reported on Monday that the former president’s team has been directly involved in arranging legal assistance for those under the panel’s microscope, and it’s all coming from American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp’s “First Amendment” fund. The assistance is limited to only Trump’s most loyal allies who are willing to stonewall the committee’s work. He could dip into one of his political action committees — which were packing over $100 million, as of last August — to help out the rest of them, but alas.
The existence of Schlapp’s legal fund for subpoenaed Trump allies was first reported by Rolling Stone. The fund was initially intended to secure counsel from the law firm of former Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who before replacing Jeff Sessions was involved in a series of alleged scams involving everything from Bigfoot dolls to a toilet designed specifically for well-endowed men.
Schlapp confirmed to CNN that Whitaker’s firm is involved. “There are lawyers that we’re partnering with from Whitaker’s firm,” he said. “He’s been very generous with his time and has been a very important mentor to these younger staffers.”
The idea for the fund, according to Schlapp, is to help younger, lower-level administration aides who are “being squeezed to tell dirt on more senior people.”
Schlapp told CNN that the fund has raised “seven figures” from donors, and that he is working with Trump’s team to determine “who can and cannot take advantage” of the fund. “We are certainly not going to assist anyone who agrees with the mission of the committee and is aiding and abetting the committee,” Schlapp said.
Trump himself is “more than aware of this fund,” a source told CNN, adding that the former president has been directing certain allies to take advantage of it. Trump has repeatedly decried the Jan. 6 committee’s work as a partisan witch hunt, and last year instructed some of his more prominent allies to refuse to comply with subpoenas by citing executive privilege. Several did just that, including former adviser Steve Bannon, who has since been charged with contempt of Congress, and former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, whom the House of Representatives voted to hold in contempt last month.
There are an untold number of other Trump administration figures who have been called upon by the committee. One would think Trump might use PAC money to assist all of his aides who got wrapped up in his efforts to overturn the election results, instead of sending only the most loyal of them to Matt Schlapp while leaving the rest to fend for themselves. One would think, but one would be wrong.