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Trump's Legal Bills This Year So Far Are over $40 Million

It's a whopper. And we don't mean some fast food restaurant's hamburger. We mean Donald Trump's legal bill. It came in at over $40 million for just the first half of this year. Since the 2020 election, his main super PAC has paid out $56 million in legal fees. And that doesn't count the bills the RNC paid for him. There might also have been bills paid by Trump himself (unlikely) or other entities. And of course, only one minor case, the defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll, has gone to a (short) trial so far. When Trump has to defend himself in Florida and D.C. on federal charges and in New York and Georgia on state charges, the bills are going to be astronomical. And remember, the former president doesn't have the country's best (and most expensive) lawyers working for him because those folks don't want such a radioactive client, particularly one who doesn't listen to his lawyers. So, his attorneys are mostly nobodies who can't get top dollar.

Most of the money that the super PAC spent for legal costs came from small-dollar donors, most of whom probably thought they were contributing to his reelection campaign. As long as they keep thinking that, the grift will go on.

Not all the of the $56 million the super PAC spent went to Trump's personal defense. Some went to the defense of dozens of people who have been sucked in along with him. These likely include Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, who have been indicted for their roles in helping Trump hide classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and then trying to cover it up. This raises some legal and ethical issues. They are likely to be called as witnesses against him. If they know that Trump will continue to pay their monumental legal bills as long as they don't rat on him, they are less likely to flip and more likely to perjure themselves. Special Counsel Jack Smith can offer them immunity from prosecution if they flip, but he can't offer to pay the thousands of dollars in legal fees they have already accumulated.

Sometimes the large cast of players and overlapping interests makes things very murky. Yuscil Taveras is the IT worker at Mar-a-Lago that Trump allegedly told to destroy surveillance recordings that could show that he tried to hide documents. Destroying evidence in a criminal case (or trying to have it destroyed) is a felony, so Taveras needs a lawyer because he is sure to be a witness in one or more upcoming trials. In June, Taveras went to the authorities and told them about a conspiracy among Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira about destroying evidence. Taveras is represented by lawyer Stan Woodward, who is being paid by one of Trump's other super PACs. But Woodward also represents Nauta. Legal ethics rules forbid a lawyer from cross examining one of his clients in order to defend another one of his clients. Now what? Find new lawyers? There are only so many lawyers in South Florida who are willing to defend people closely associated with Trump, especially when they suspect the defendant is probably guilty and expect to lose the case. Losing doesn't help your batting average and having to sue to get paid is not something lawyers want to do.

The legal bills are so big already (and they keep mounting) that Susie Wiles, one of Trump's closest political advisers, is starting to triage the defendants and have the super PACs pay some of their bills and not others. This will not be taken well by defendants who are cut loose. They could be tempted to make deals that required them singing like canaries for a day on tape and then not being involved anymore.

Some of the bills are inevitable in the sense that when Jack Smith charged Trump with hiding government documents, he had to hire lawyers to defend himself. But he didn't have to sue CNN for defamation, which he did. Not surprisingly, the judge in the CNN case, Trump appointee Raag Singhal, threw the case out. Trump's lawyers didn't get to first base there, but they still expect to be paid. And that lawsuit is just one of many Trump has filed against media outlets. If he would just stop suing everyone who displeases him, the legal bills would be lower, but habits developed over a lifetime don't just go away overnight. (V)

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