Donald Trump took the unusual step of filing to run for reelection almost immediately after he was inaugurated for the purposes of raising money, but a significant amount of that money is being spent on legal fees, not on running a campaign.
A review of spending records shows that Trump's campaign has already spent nearly a million dollars on legal fees during the first four months of the year.
That's not altogether surprising, but I was surprised to learn how many different law firms they're paying.
President Donald Trump's 2020 reelection campaign has spent about $835,000 in legal fees so far this year, or about 22% of its total spending, according to the latest fundraising reports filed quarterly with the Federal Election Commission.
The campaign’s legal consulting spending went to at least eight different firms and the Trump Corporation. The bulk of the spending, about $350,000, went to Jones Day, which has represented the campaign since the 2016 election, including any litigation related to it.
Two others firms — Harding LLP and Larocca, Hornik, Rosen, Greenberg & Blaha, which are involved in the legal fight with [Stormy Daniels] — were paid a combined $280,000. The campaign did not respond to questions from BuzzFeed News about the payments, but an official told the New York Times that they were not related to Daniels.
Now, Trump's "campaign" has also spent a significant amount of money at Trump's own properties so it's valid to ask exactly how much of the money he's raising is actually being spent on campaign activities.
As far as we know, the only campaign activities he's involved is the occasional rally when he descends on some backwater town to recover from a blow to his ego. Buzzfeed reports that the Trump campaign has also paid his campaign manager's firm $1.7 million this year, but that still leaves a lot of money on the table.
I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it doesn't seem like a stretch to guess that less than half of the money Trump is raising is being used on a campaign. You may recall that that was also the case in 2016. Trump's campaign didn't even hire staff in a significant number of states because fake news and Facebook did all the work for them. Moreover, it's currently early 2018. There's just not much for a campaign to do right now, but Trump is raising money anyway.
All we know for sure is that about $1 out of every $5 raised by Trump is being spent to defend himself from his former mistresses and the investigation of foreign influence.