Probes run up Trump campaign's legal costs

$700,000 paid out in past 3 months

WASHINGTON -- President Donald 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 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 $50,000 on June 27 to the offices of New York lawyer Alan Futerfas, who is representing Donald Trump Jr. in the ongoing Russia-related investigations. That payment was made 13 days before it was publicly revealed that Futerfas would represent Trump's eldest son.

Trump Jr. was recently thrust into the center of those investigations after revelations that he had arranged a meeting last year with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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Futerfas' firm had not previously been paid by Trump's campaign. Neither he nor Trump Jr. responded 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 also is advising 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.

The Trump campaign also paid nearly $90,000 to the Trump Organization for legal consulting and $120,000 in rent for the campaign's offices at Trump Tower in New York City. Under campaign-finance law, campaigns can conduct business with candidates' companies if they pay fair market value for the services.

Fundraising take $13.3M

In addition to the re-election campaign, two joint fundraising vehicles established with Republican Party committees also filed reports to the commission. The three fundraising committees raised about $13.3 million in the second quarter of 2017, up from $12.6 million during the previous three months, according to the filings.

The reports make clear that Trump's re-election campaign operation is already in high gear, and it is working to engage the Republican Party's deepest pockets in a way that his 2016 campaign did not.

Trump received $5 million from small-dollar donors, those who contribute $200 or less. He also saw a surge of big-money support, fueled in large measure by donors writing checks of at least $35,000 each to join the president at a private event at his Washington hotel in June, the first fundraising event of his re-election campaign.

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 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.

The reports show that 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 consultant Brad Parscale of San Antonio, who served as digital director of Trump's 2016 campaign.

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, 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."

The reports filed Saturday also show that the committees spent nearly $200,000 on Trump-branded merchandise, including more than $80,000 on hats. In 2016, hats featuring the slogan "Make America Great Again" became symbols for Trump's campaign.

Information for this article was contributed by Kenneth P. Vogel and Rachel Shorey of The New York Times; by Mark Berman, Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman of The Washington Post; and by Bill Allison of Bloomberg News.

A Section on 07/16/2017

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