Trump PACs paid attorneys practically $ eight million as he battled election outcomes and impeachment
Former US President Donald Trump speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump’s political action committees combined spent just over $ 7.9 million on legal fees, much of which went to attorneys trying to overturn the 2020 election and defending him during his second impeachment trial .
Four Trump-affiliated committees made the payments in the first half of 2021, according to the filing. The Make America Great Again PAC disbursed just over $ 7.8 million of the total legal expenses. The committee is Trump’s former campaign account. His team turned it into a PAC earlier this year.
Trump’s PAC leadership, Save America, spent just over $ 50,000 in legal fees, while its joint sister committees paid out around $ 40,000. The Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which raised money with the Republican National Committee, spent nearly $ 37,000 on legal costs.
Trump announced over the weekend that his committees have raised nearly $ 82 million and over $ 100 million is available. The former president used fundraisers during his election campaign and impeachment to raise money for both legal efforts.
Payments began in early January after several lawsuits from Trump and his Republican allies in key states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Arizona and Michigan were dismissed. The checks continued to go to law firms during Trump’s impeachment trial, where he was indicted by the House of Representatives for the second time and exonerated by the Senate. Some payments to legal advisors were not made until June.
When asked about the legal costs, Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, referred to the impeachment battle. The House of Representatives has indicted Trump largely line-of-the-line for instigating the deadly January 6 riot on Capitol Hill. The Senate acquitted him, but some Republicans joined the Democrats in voting for a condemnation.
“It’s a shame that the National Democrats, obsessed with preventing President Trump from running again and winning in 2024, pursued yet another failed impeachment effort earlier this year. While this partisan farce was thoroughly defeated and President Trump completely exonerated, these things cost “money,” Miller said in an email on Monday.
Trump’s attorneys got a stroke of luck during his impeachment trial.
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres, a law firm founded by longtime attorney Marc Kasowitz, received $ 2.5 million from Trump’s Make America Great Again PAC. Eric Herschmann, a partner in the firm, was hired by Trump in January to assist in the first impeachment in 2020. He later joined the Trump White House as a senior advisor, and it remains unclear what the payment was for.
Miller and Kasowitz did not respond to requests for comments to make payments to the company.
MAGA PAC paid Michael van der Veen’s law firms just over $ 575,000. Van der Veen and Bruce Castor, who also works at the firm, were part of Trump’s second impeachment defense team.
Another member of Trump’s impeachment team, David Schoen, received over $ 100,000 from the former president’s PAC.
None of the FEC records show that Rudy Giuliani, who referred to the President as a client and publicly challenged the results of the election, made legal service payments to Rudy Giuliani.
The former New York mayor was suspended from practicing law in the state following false election charges. He is being investigated for allegedly failing to register as a lobbyist for companies seeking various measures related to Ukraine, including removing the American ambassador under Trump.
The PAC Make America Great Again paid Giuliani’s security firm Giuliani Security & Safety just over $ 76,000 for travel expenses. “Mayor Giuliani was only reimbursed for expenses,” Miller told CNBC. Giuliani had said he would work for Trump for free.
Jenna Ellis, one of Trump’s legal advisors during the recount, received more than $ 22,000 for her services.
In an email to CNBC, Ellis defended the former president and the payments she received.
“I was paid in full according to the terms of my representation. President Trump has always treated me with fairness and respect for my work and advocacy for him. He’s the best boss I’ve ever had, ”said Ellis on Monday.
Elections LLC, which was launched by former Trump Vice President of the White House Stefan Passantino, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, received over $ 200,000 between several Trump PACs this year, according to new records. The FEC records do not say whether the payments were related to the election. Passantino did not respond to requests for comments.
A website tracking the attorneys who worked to overturn the election for Trump reveals that many of those attorneys have been paid six figures for litigation they lost. In February, PAC Make America Great Again paid Hilbert law firm just under $ 380,000 for legal assistance with the recount.
This company fought failed litigation in Georgia. Kurt Hilbert, a founder of the company, made an infamous phone call between Trump and Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger in January, according to the Wall Street Journal. Trump urged Raffensperger to overturn then-President Joe Biden’s victory in the state.
“I would like to suggest that only four categories already mentioned by the President actually have hard numbers of 24,149 votes that were illegally counted. That alone is enough to change the result or to question the result, ”Hilbert said on the call, according to the transcript of the journal.
Hilbert declined to comment on the PAC’s payments to his company. But he repressed the idea that there were electoral irregularities in Georgia.
“This evidence cannot be ignored,” Hilbert told CNBC in an email.
Courts, state electoral authorities and the US Department of Justice have all said there is no evidence that the elections against Trump were rigged.
True North Law, which was fighting a failed battle in Swing State Michigan, received over $ 270,000 for its services from the same committee in January. Harvey & Binnall, who were embroiled in a failed lawsuit in Nevada, reportedly received over $ 300,000 in payments from the Trump PAC from January to June.
True North Law did not respond to requests for comment.