Trump PAC spent more than $40M on legal bills this year as his charges mount: Sources


(WASHINGTON) — A political group that supports Donald Trump spent more than $40 million on legal costs in the first half of 2023 to defend the former president, his advisers and others, sources familiar with a filing detailing the costs confirmed to ABC News.

That number spent by the Save America leadership PAC, Trump’s main fundraising arm, was first reported by The Washington Post.

The financial filing is expected to be released Monday.

The mounting costs come as Trump faces mounting legal troubles, including a superseding indictment handed up from a federal grand jury via special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s allegedly improper retention of classified documents after leaving office.

The superseding indictment, released publicly last week, charges Trump and two others — Carlos De Oliveira, head of maintenance at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, and Trump aide Walt Nauta — with two obstruction counts based on allegations that the defendants attempted to delete surveillance video footage at Mar-a-Lago in the summer of 2022.

Trump previously faced a sweeping, 37-count federal indictment to which he pleaded not guilty. Nauta, who was also previously charged, also pleaded not guilty. Neither of them has pleaded to the new charges yet.

De Oliveira is set to appear in court on Monday.

Trump separately faces a 34-count indictment in New York state court, out of Manhattan, related to hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

He is also a target of Smith’s investigation into the events around Jan. 6 and his push to overturn his 2020 election loss.

He has denied wrongdoing and repeatedly claimed political persecution. At a campaign stop in Erie, Pennsylvania, on Saturday, he said, “These are ridiculous indictments and all they’re doing is hoping for massive election interference.”

Trump and his allies have consistently pushed supporters to donate to Save America, often using false claims about the 2020 election and soliciting donations to rebuke the multiple investigations into the former president, his business dealings and his actions on Jan. 6.

The leadership PAC has, in the past, reported raking in tens of millions of dollars and has helped cover legal bills for either Trump or his allies.

In a statement, a Trump campaign spokesperson argued that the payments were necessary.

“The weaponized Department of Justice has continued to go after innocent Americans because they worked for President Trump and they know they have no legitimate case,” the spokesperson said. “In order to combat these heinous actions by Joe Biden’s cronies and to protect these innocent people from financial ruin and prevent their lives from being completely destroyed, the leadership PAC contributed to their legal fees to ensure they have representation against unlawful harassment.”

Smith, the independent prosecutor probing Trump, has defended his work.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is the most popular challenger to Trump in the Republican primary, though he notably trails in early polls, criticized the PAC’s spending on Trump’s bills rather than on Democrats.

“Trump has spent over $60 million this year on two things: falsely attacking Ron DeSantis and paying his own legal fees, not a cent on defeating Joe Biden,” DeSantis campaign spokesman Andrew Romero said in a statement. “Governor DeSantis’ sole focus, by contrast, has been campaigning for this country’s future, defeating Biden, and reversing the decline of America.”

In response, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said, in part, “Only desperate idiots and un-American morons would take the position the DeSantis team has taken.”

The war of words continued on Sunday afternoon as DeSantis told ABC News in New Hampshire, pushing back on Trump, “If he drained the swamp like he promised, you know, he probably wouldn’t be in the mess that he’s in right now.”

ABC News’ Hannah Demissie, Lalee Ibssa, Soo Rin Kim and Will McDuffie contributed to this report.

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