Former President Donald J. Trump and his team are establishing a legal-defense fund to deal with the mounting legal expenses associated with the investigations and criminal indictments involving him, his employees, and associates. The fund, expected to be named the Patriot Legal Defense Fund Inc., will be led by Michael Glassner, a longtime Trump political adviser, and Lynne Patton, a former Trump Organization employee who also worked in the Trump administration.
While it is unclear who exactly the fund will cover, it is not expected to cover Trump’s personal legal bills. In the first half of 2023, Trump’s political action committee, Save America, has already spent over $40 million on legal fees for him and several witnesses. Numerous individuals connected to Trump, both as witnesses and defendants, have become entangled in the various criminal investigations related to him.
Trump spokesman Steven Cheung criticized the Justice Department for targeting innocent Americans associated with the former president. He stated that a new legal defense fund is necessary to protect these individuals from financial ruin and provide them with representation against unlawful harassment.
The establishment of the legal-defense fund could alleviate some of the financial burdens on Save America, which previously requested a refund of the $60 million it transferred to a pro-Trump super PAC last year due to severe financial pressure. Trump now faces federal investigations involving two co-defendants, Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, regarding the retention of presidential materials and classified documents after leaving office. Both individuals work for Trump, with Nauta employed by the Trump campaign and De Oliveira serving as the property manager at Mar-a-Lago.
In a recent fundraiser for a group aiding individuals arrested in connection with the January 6 riot, Trump pledged to make a contribution. The name of this group, the Patriot Freedom Project, coincides with the new legal fund’s name. It is worth noting that Trump had previously opposed the creation of legal-defense funds, believing they were only for guilty individuals.
As a wealthy businessman, Trump has been using funds from Save America to cover his and witnesses’ legal expenses in the ongoing criminal investigations. Save America was established to hold the more than $100 million Trump raised shortly after the 2020 election, under the guise of combatting widespread voter fraud. Despite no evidence of widespread fraud, Trump had access to tens of millions of dollars. While he cannot directly spend the money on his 2024 presidential campaign, he has been utilizing it for legal bills. Save America also paid for Trump’s political operations and staff members while he was out of office, in addition to covering $16 million in legal fees.
Trump’s rivals have exploited the use of Save America funds for legal payments as a means to attack him. Recognizing this vulnerability, Trump expressed at a rally in Erie, Pa., that he is willing to invest as much money as necessary into his campaign if needed.