About 25% of Trump’s Re-election Spending Continues to Go to Lawyers


A considerable portion of the money raised in the fourth quarter, more than $4 million, came from supporters who gave $200 or less.

Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and a senior adviser to his campaign, said in a statement that the campaign’s election commission reports revealed that “grass-roots support for President Trump is stronger than ever.” She added, “Never has a president enjoyed so much support from small donors who continue to rally around him.”

Mr. Trump’s campaign has assiduously courted small donors online, often tying those solicitations to major news events. For instance, donors who gave before the State of the Union address on Tuesday were offered the chance to see their names displayed on a live stream of the speech on the campaign’s website.

Cultivating small donors is not cheap. Mr. Trump’s campaign committees paid $1.1 million to a company owned by Brad Parscale, the digital director for Mr. Trump’s campaign and the architect of his online fund-raising program. Much of that money was likely spent on online and social media advertising.

Other spending included $361,000 on campaign merchandise, presumably including the red “Make America Great Again” hats that became the symbol of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Legal fees were among the biggest expenses detailed in Wednesday’s reports, accounting for about 25 percent of all the $4.7 million spent by Mr. Trump’s campaign and its two joint committees with the Republican National Committee.

The legal bills highlight the degree to which Mr. Trump’s preparations for a re-election bid in 2020 have been shadowed by the investigations being pursued by congressional committees and the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, and connections between Russia, Mr. Trump and his associates.

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Michael D. Cohen, the president’s longtime lawyer and adviser.

Credit
Al Drago for The New York Times

The legal spending had spiked sharply from July through September as those investigations intensified, and then remained consistent through the end of the year.

Election law permits campaigns to pay legal costs that stem from issues related to the relevant campaigns.

It is not possible to determine definitively how much of the legal spending by Mr. Trump’s campaign went toward responding to the Russia inquiries.

Some of the groups listed in the reports also handle other legal matters for the campaign. That includes Jones Day, the law firm that received the largest share of legal fees — $852,000 — in the reports. It represents the campaign in matters related to election and campaign finance law, as well as litigation stemming from the campaign.

But Jones Day also represents the campaign in connection with the investigations, helping to respond to requests for tens of thousands of pages of documents and interviews with campaign officials.

The second biggest recipient of legal fees in Wednesday’s reports — McDermott Will & Emery, which was paid $214,000 — is representing Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s longtime lawyer and adviser, in the Russia investigations.

Mr. Cohen referred a question about the legal fees to the Trump campaign. Michael Glassner, the executive director of the Trump campaign, did not respond to an email asking whether the campaign was covering Mr. Cohen’s legal costs.

The Trump campaign also paid $29,000 for legal consulting to the Trump Corporation, among several payments to Trump companies.

An additional $3,900 in rent went to Trump Plaza, presumably for office space, and another $11,000 in rent to Trump Restaurants, as well as more than $10,000 in travel costs to the Trump International Hotel here. The hotel has become a hot spot for donors and others seeking to rub elbows with Trump family members and insiders.

Another notable disbursement was a $5,000 payment for research consulting to an organization in New York called Confidential Global Investigations, whose website says it is made up of former law enforcement and intelligence officials who specialize in financial investigations and finding hidden assets.

The company’s president, Robert W. Seiden, said he would have to check to see if he could reveal the purpose of the payment. “We probably won’t be able to,” he said, because of confidentiality agreements with its clients.

Also on Wednesday, a political action committee overseen by Vice President Mike Pence filed an F.E.C. report revealing that it had raised $1.3 million in the second half of 2017. It paid out tens of thousands of dollars to a small team of consultants who have built an independent political operation for Mr. Pence — a rarity for a sitting vice president.

Mr. Pence’s PAC, Great America Committee, donated more than $200,000 to Republican candidates.

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