NYtimes: Trump’s Re-Election Campaign Doubles Its Spending on Legal Fees
By KENNETH P. VOGEL and RACHEL SHOREYJULY 15, 2017
WASHINGTON — President Trump’s re-election campaign more than doubled its spending on legal fees over the past few months as its lawyers assisted the campaign in its handling of investigations into interactions between the president’s associates and Russia.
The committees devoted to Mr. Trump’s 2020 campaign spent nearly $700,000 on legal fees between the beginning of April and the end of June — more than twice as much as they spent in the first three months of the year — according to reports filed Saturday afternoon with the Federal Election Commission.
Among the legal fees paid by the Trump campaign was a $50,000 paymenton June 27 to the offices of the New York lawyer Alan S. Futerfas, who is representing Donald Trump Jr. in the ongoing Russia-related investigations. Donald Jr. was recently thrust into the center of those investigations when The New York Times reported that he had arranged a meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton, who was set to become the Democratic presidential nominee.
Mr. Futerfas’s firm had not previously been paid by Mr. Trump’s campaign. Neither he nor Donald Jr. responded on Saturday to questions about the payment.
The majority of the legal payments reflected in the second-quarter reports — $545,000 — went to the law firm Jones Day. It has represented the campaign in election law matters and ongoing lawsuits, and is also advising it on legal issues related to the Russia investigations.
The campaign has been sending letters to former employees instructing them to retain documents that could be relevant to the ongoing investigations, according to several people who received them. Some of the letters, signed by the campaign’s executive director, Michael Glassner, alert the former employees that lawyers from Jones Day might contact them.
Representatives from Jones Day, the Trump campaign and the White House did not respond to questions about the firm’s role in helping the campaign navigate the Russia investigations, which have expanded to include several former campaign officials, as well as the campaign’s digital operation.
Federal election law permits campaign committees to pay legal fees incurred as a result of activity related to the campaign.
The Trump campaign also paid nearly $90,000 to the Trump corporation for legal consulting and $120,000 in rent for the campaign’s offices at Trump Tower in Manhattan.
In addition to the re-election campaign, two joint fund-raising vehicles established with Republican Party committees also filed reports to the commission. The committees ramped up their big-donor fund-raising during the second quarter of the year, raising $13.2 million — much of which came from big donors — according to the reports.
The reports make it clear that although Election Day 2020 is nearly three and a half years away, Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign operation is already in high gear, and that it is working to engage the Republican Party’s deepest pockets in a way that his unconventional 2016 campaign did not
About 43 percent of the second-quarter total came from donors who gave $10,000 or more to the committees, according to the reports. And that probably does not reflect most of the checks collected in connection with a fund-raiser at the end of last month at Mr. Trump’s Washington hotel, which raised an estimated $10 million from 300 guests who each donated at least $35,000.
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a joint fund-raising committee comprising the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and a number of state Republican parties — reported $100,000 donations from, among others, the Florida sugar baron José Fanjul, the Quicken Loans executive Shawn M. Krause and the Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
The commission reports show that donors who contributed $200 or less accounted for less than 38 percent of all funds raised in the second quarter. That is a reversal from Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, when small donors accounted for a majority of the outside donations raised by his committees, not including the $66 million he donated to his campaign.
In some ways, the shift to high-dollar fund-raising represents a move toward a more traditional political operation than the one that helped power Mr. Trump’s upset victory. In 2016, his campaign relied more on donations from Mr. Trump’s own pocket (he has not donated to his re-election campaign) and on the power of mega-rallies and his social media presence than on traditional — and costly — political infrastructure like field offices and television advertising.
It is unusual, however, for a sitting president’s team to be raising money and building a re-election effort in the first half of a first term, when political and fund-raising efforts are typically channeled through the president’s national party committee.
The reports show that Mr. Trump’s committees spent $229,000 on salaries and political and communications consulting. The committees spent $2.1 million on digital consulting, all of which went to firms associated with the San Antonio-based consultant Brad Parscale, who served as digital director of Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, and who is now advising a nonprofit group seeking to raise huge sums of cash to boost Mr. Trump’s legislative agenda.
Mr. Parscale and the Trump campaign data operation have attracted the interest of congressional investigators looking into the Trump campaign’s digital operation in connection with the Russia investigations. On Friday, Mr. Parscale posted on Twitter that he had accepted an invitation to appear before the House Intelligence Committee, writing, “I am unaware of any Russian involvement in the digital and data operation of the 2016 Trump presidential campaign.”
Mr. Parscale’s firms were by far the highest-paid vendors on the Trump committee’s payrolls. And those payments seem to indicate that Mr. Trump’s re-election operation will again rely heavily on social media and other digital targeting of voters, which is credited with helping to harness grass-roots support for his candidacy. To that end, the reports also show that the committees spent nearly $500,000 on data management services in the second quarter.
The reports filed Saturday also show that the committees spent nearly $200,000 on Trump-branded merchandise, including more than $80,000 toward hats. In 2016, hats featuring the slogan “Make America Great Again” became symbols for Mr. Trump’s campaign.