President Donald Trump continues to raise money at an unprecedented rate in his turbulent first 15 months in office while allowing his campaign committee to help pay the legal expenses associated with them.
Trump’s campaign raised $10.1 million in this year’s first quarter, a federal filing shows. The committee reported having $28.3 million in the bank at the end of March, according to the Sunday filing with the Federal Election Commission.
It’s unusual for a sitting president to raise money for re-election early in his term as aggressively as Trump has done. Former President Barack Obama had been in office more than two years before he headlined his first re-election fundraiser. Former President George W. Bush raised $268,423 in his first two years in office, FEC records show.
Trump’s re-election campaign showed payments of $186,279 to the same law firm that is representing Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney, in the lawsuit over a nondisclosure agreement with an adult entertainment star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is suing to have the nondisclosure agreement invalidated.
The campaign’s filings list the spending’s purpose with the firm as legal consulting, without greater specificity. One partner, Larry Rosen, began representing Trump in March in the Daniels matter, according to a report from ABC News. The firm previously received payments from the campaign totaling $30,500 in October and November, an earlier filing shows.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation on April 9 raided the office, home and hotel room of Cohen, long known as a fixer for Trump’s business and personal endeavors. Agents also seized the content of a safety deposit box and two of his cell phones.
Prosecutors said in a Friday court hearing that Cohen has been the target of a months-long federal investigation in New York, separate from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Cohen’s attorneys were seeking an emergency stay to prevent prosecutors from examining materials that they claimed may have included tens of thousands of privileged communications between Cohen and his clients.
Trump’s campaign also paid Harder LLP, which specializes in entertainment law and reputation protection, $93,181 from the campaign. The firm’s name partner, Charles Harder, wrote the cease-and-desist letter sent to former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon in January. In the letter, Harder said Bannon’s comments in Michael Wolff’s book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” violated a nondisclosure agreement Bannon had signed when he joined the campaign in 2016.