After former president Donald Trump lost the 2020 election, he raised more than $250 million in donations by pushing the “Big Lie”—claiming that he had actually won and needed the money to contest the results. Some of the money that came pouring in went to pay down his campaign’s debts, or into the bank accounts of the Republican National Committee. But a big chunk went to a new political action committee he named Save America.
Now, as Trump faces multiple criminal indictments and yet more potential prosecutions, the Save America PAC is spending tens of millions on legal fees for the former president and his witnesses. The group will report more than $40 million in legal spending for the first half of this year, the Washington Post reported Saturday. The PAC had previously reported spending about $16 million on legal fees since the 2020 election—the majority of which went to firms representing Trump in investigations and lawsuits.
In case you need a refresher: In early April, Trump was arrested in New York and charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, related to allegations that he made hush money payments in 2016 to cover up an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels. In June, the Justice Department filed federal criminal charges against Trump (the first time in history it had done so against a former president) alleging that Trump had hoarded classified military secrets at his Mar-a-Lago estate—violating the Espionage Act, making false statements, and conspiring to obstruct justice. This week, special counsel Jack Smith filed a new indictment in that case, alleging that Trump instructed a maintenance worker to delete key security camera footage in an effort to obstruct the investigation.
As legal expenses related to these cases and others stack up, the financial pressure on the Save America PAC is now so high that it recently requested a refund of $60 million it had transferred to another group supporting Trump, the New York Times reported.
Meanwhile, some experts argue that Trump is violating campaign finance law by having his PAC pay his legal bills. Under their reasoning, because Trump is running for president in 2024, the PAC’s payments are a kind of campaign contribution and should be subject to the standard $3,300 contribution limit. “Payments by a PAC that exceed the contribution limit are contributions to the candidate and are unlawful,” Jason Torchinsky, a campaign finance expert and lawyer with the firm Holtzman Vogel, told the New York Times in February. Adav Noti, vice president of the Campaign Legal Center, called the matter a “gray area.”