Trump’s legal problems have been making headlines for months. The former president is facing more than 90 felony counts across multiple jurisdictions for criminal behavior that allegedly spans decades. Despite this, the former president has been continuing to push his 2024 presidential campaign and pull in donations from corporate sponsors and constituents alike.

A Potential Violation of Campaign Finance Law

Campaign funds are intended to be used entirely for the operation of a presidential campaign. It is illegal to use campaign funds for personal purposes, as former Representative George Santos discovered when it was revealed that he embezzled from his campaign fund for personal reasons.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Ali Shaker/VOA

Where George Santos is now facing criminal charges for violating federal finance law, Donald Trump may soon find himself in similarly hot water. A recent report done by New York Times writers Maggie Haberman and Shane Goldmacher revealed that in 2023, Trump allegedly expended a staggering $50 million in legal fees.

Legal Challenges for Days

Trump’s legal woes are no surprise, if you’ve paid any sort of attention to national news over the last year. The former president is currently in the midst of legal battles in New York, Georgia, and Washington D.C. over various alleged criminal endeavors, and his legal team for these battles is clearly not cheap.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

The number of $50 million paid on legal expenses is surprising for another reason, too. Historically, Trump has not been someone who has followed through on financial commitments to others. These shirked obligations include to lawyers and doctors and business partners, so the fact that there is evidence that he paid the $50 million is enough for many to take pause.

Legal Fees Paid Out of Super PACS

Where did the money come from, though? Well, the NYT reporting revealed that the majority of the costs came from two different super PACs that Trump founded in his name. One of them, the Save America PAC, directed 10% of their online locations to a fund that was specifically allocated to pay for Trump’s legal expenses.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Cristian L. Ricardo

A second account, called the Make America Great Again PAC, was also used to funnel funds towards Trump’s legal defense. There was evidence of money being transferred between the two PACs in his name before going to his legal defenses, and the total of $50 million spent on legal fees is the summation of both of these donation organizations.

Haberman on CNN

Haberman went on CNN to have a discussion with host Kaitlan Collins about the legal feels that Trump paid. Aside from the aforementioned surprise that he paid legal fees at all, Haberman pointed out that $50 million is truly a staggering amount of money to be paying towards legal fees.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

She theorized that the reason that the number was so high was because Trump was not only paying for his own legal fees, but also for the legal fees of fellow defendants and witnesses. And she posited that these fees are only likely to grow as his legal troubles continue to stretch on into 2024 and beyond.

Legal Fees Escalating

Haberman pointed out that the number, $50 million, was significantly higher for 2023 than it was for 2022. She used this to project that the legal fees that he’ll be paying for 2024 will be even higher than 2023, given that he was indicted four times in four different jurisdictions.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Michael Vadon

If she’s correct, she also wondered how much of the legal fees Trump will continue to be able to pay out of his super PACs. As mentioned, there are laws around campaign finances that have to be followed, and using donations gathered somewhat dubiously to fund his legal woes might get Trump in trouble with federal campaign finances organizations.

Dubious Consent, At Best

While it is possible that some of the people who donated to the Trump campaign were fully aware that their money might be going towards paying legal fees, it’s much more likely that many people who have donated to the campaign were duped. Due to this likelihood, the mocking of both Trump and people who chose to financially support him exploded on social media.

Source: Reuters / Brendan McDermid

One person mocked Republicans as a whole, saying, “Congrats, Republicans. All the money you’re donating to “make America great” is just “making rich lawyers even richer”.” Another posited that Trump is a fraud, and always has been.

Mocking Trump’s History of Lying

One person even went so far as to make fun of Trump’s history of lying and cheating with his followers in order to continue to profit off of them. The tweet read, “He’ll probably persuade his MAGA followers that losing is a form of victory, and they’ll cheer exuberantly.”

Source: X / @Parh_ly_Samay

It is a fact that Trump supporters tend to accept everything that he says at face value. This is a worrying trend that can be seen in the rise of election denialism and an almost dogmatic support of Trump in the face of his legal battles. Whether it will change in the future is anybody’s guess, but history unfortunately does not support the idea.

Financial Woes Increasing

Aside from his legal fees, Trump’s financial obligations only appear to be growing as he faces court case after court case. Multiple civil litigations have found Trump liable for various civil offenses, and each of these findings has come with a hefty financial penalty.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

A federal civil jury recently ordered Trump to pay more than $80 million in damages towards E. Jean Carrol for liability in the second defamation lawsuit the woman has brought against him. Additionally, a jury is set to rule soon on the damages that Trump will be obliged to pay in a trial brought by the state attorney general Leticia James. The court is seeking more than $300 million in damages, and the final amount could be even higher.

An Ongoing Challenge

Trump’s legal battles are only beginning, and it doesn’t appear that he will have a sudden windfall of cash to pay his legal fees anytime soon. Investigations into his finances reveal that Trump has been inflating his personal net worth and value for years, and it’s possible that the former president simply does not have the cash on hand to pay.

Source: Wikimedia Commons / Gage Skidmore

Whether Trump will be obligated to file bankruptcy in the wake of these challenges is a question that has yet to be answered. His campaign finances are funding his legal battles for now, but the question to be answered is how long he’ll be able to get away with it, and if it’s truly legal for him to use campaign donations in this manner at all.