The GOP reportedly agreed to fund up to $1.6 million of former President Trump’s legal bills to fight probes into his business practices in New York, according to the Washington Post.
The Post reported that the party’s executive committee overwhelmingly approved the payments during a meeting last summer in Nashville, indicating that the GOP’s vow to fund Trump’s personal legal fees is 10 times higher than previously known.
Last month, the GOP claimed in campaign-finance filings that it paid the former president’s personal attorneys $121,670 in October. According to the Post, the party has issued more payments since then with the RNC paying $578,000 last month to attorneys representing both Trump and his businesses.
The payments are reportedly expected to continue in the next several months, and the executive committee could move to fund more than $1.6 million in Trump’s legal bills.
The RNC’s funding of up to $1.6 million of Trump’s legal fees is meant to fund Trump’s defense against two investigations of his business: a civil investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) as well as a criminal probe by James and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (D).
“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, told the Post in a statement Thursday. “As a leader of our party, defending President Trump and his record of achievement is critical to the GOP.”
According to the Post, the RNC’s first payments in October went to Ronald Fischetti, who has served as Trump’s personal lawyer in the New York investigations.
On Thursday, the RNC told the Post that it paid Fischetti again last month, in addition to two new law firms, which include the firm of Susan Necheles, who was listed as an attorney for Trump’s longtime chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg and two Trump corporate entities when indicted by Vance on tax fraud charges last summer.
The Post also reported that the RNC said it paid the law firm of Michael van der Veen, a Philadelphia-based personal injury and defense lawyer who served as part of Trump’s defense team in his second impeachment trial earlier this year for “incitement of insurrection.”
GOP officials privately say that the former president is the biggest fundraising draw for the party, and they hope to maintain a good rapport with him heading into next year’s midterm elections and before the 2024 presidential election, according to the Post. Trump advisers say that RNC chair Ronna McDaniel is regularly in touch with the former president and has urged him against starting a third party.
Although some members have demanded for the GOP be more independent from Trump, a large majority of the party’s 168-member committee continues to back the former president, according to the Post.