The Republican National Committee (RNC) agreed to pay $1.6 million towards former President Donald Trump’s legal costs as he battles investigations into his private businesses by New York prosecutors, according to reports.
The payments, which were first reported by The Washington Post, were approved by the RNC’s executive committee at a meeting in October in Nashville. The report was later confirmed by The New York Times.
Back in November, it was reported that the RNC made two payments totaling $121,670 to the law firm of Ronald Fischetti.
He is representing Trump in investigations being conducted into his business interests by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James.
The total sum the RNC approved for Trump’s legal fees is in fact much higher, according to the reports, and will build over the coming months to a total of $1.6 million.
The arrangement is unusual, as the investigations don’t directly relate to Trump’s political activities and his single term as a Republican president.
Instead, they relate to his sprawling businesses and their umbrella company, the Trump Organization, and have a scope that extends well before his time in politics.
In a statement to The Washington Post, RNC spokesperson Emma Vaughn defended the arrangement and confirmed that the party’s executive committee approved “paying for certain legal expenses” related to Trump.
“As a leader of our party, defending President Trump and his record of achievement is critical to the GOP,” she said.
“It is entirely appropriate for the RNC to continue assisting in fighting back against the Democrats’ never-ending witch hunt and attacks on him.”
The RNC statement echoes Trump’s longstanding claims that the investigations into his businesses are a politically motivated “witch hunt.” He has vigorously denied any wrongdoing.
The Manhattan district attorney’s criminal inquiry is looking at whether the Trump Organization was involved in tax fraud and asset inflation or devaluation schemes. The New York attorney general is conducting a parallel criminal inquiry.
Trump continues to be the GOP’s biggest political star, despite the clouds hanging over his legacy from the criminal probes into his businesses and the fallout from the January 6 riot at the US Capitol.
Republican hopefuls in the mid-terms are clamoring for his endorsement, and he is stirring rumors of a bid to return to office in 2024.