Home » For Trump Campaign, Strapped for Cash After Legal Fees, Looming Indictments Offer a Lifeline

For Trump Campaign, Strapped for Cash After Legal Fees, Looming Indictments Offer a Lifeline

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is entering the second half of the year in a strained financial situation, due in large part to sky-high legal fees after a bruising pair of indictments. And with two more looming on the horizon, the bills are expected to keep coming – but so are the opportunities for a fundraising surge.

Though the former president outraised the rest of the GOP field, bringing in more than $50 million in the first six months of the year as he faced an indictment in New York and Florida, his campaign has done so while burning through money – especially on legal fees. Trump’s Save America leadership PAC spent more than $20 million on legal fees alone, according to new campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission, accounting for more than two-thirds of the PAC’s overall spending.

Accordingly, heading into the second half of the year, Trump’s PAC has less than $4 million in cash on hand, falling from more than $100 million at the beginning of last year. And the situation appeared to grow so dire that the PAC reportedly asked for a refund of a large contribution made to a pro-Trump super PAC that was intended for television advertisements.

But what amounts to one of Trump’s largest expenses also appears to be his greatest fundraising weapon – and under a number of investigations, he’s created a somewhat self-sustaining legal ecosystem, offsetting each legal fight with an outcry to his supporters to come to his aid, with wallets at the ready.

After his last indictment, Trump’s campaign, which often sends out multiple fundraising emails a day, called on supporters to “make a contribution to peacefully DEFEND our movement from the never-ending witch hunts.” And his team is launching a new fundraising effort arm, known as the Patriot Legal Defense Fund, to offset his mounting legal fees. It’s a pattern that’s traceable back to Trump’s two impeachments, where his team capitalized financially on the moment by positioning the former president as a victim.

But whether that life cycle continues to sustain itself remains to be seen. Analysts have noted that while Trump saw his best online fundraising day of the year in April, raising $4 million on the day following his appearance in a Manhattan court in the hush money case, when he appeared in court for his second indictment related to the handling of classified documents, his campaign saw only about a third of that fundraising power. Notably, the second indictment – which marked the first time a former president had been indicted on federal criminal charges – is widely considered to be more serious than the first.

With two looming indictments – one related to his actions after the 2020 election, including the events leading up to the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, and the other involving whether Trump attempted to change the results of the presidential election in Georgia – Trump’s campaign will likely leap at the opportunity for another cash grab. And whether the court appearances produce the same eagerness from his supporters will likely dictate how his campaign moves forward.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is also eyeing the Republican nomination, criticized Trump on Tuesday for using campaign funds to pay his legal bills, suggesting the former president should shoulder the burden himself.

“Instead he’s taking $25, $50, $100 from everyday Americans who believe they’re giving it to him to help elect him president,” Christie told CNBC. “And he’s paying his legal fees.”

But where the Trump campaign’s pockets have grown shallow, support for his campaign has remained steadfast. A survey by The New York Times and Siena College found that Trump and President Joe Biden are in a dead heat for the presidency next year, with 43% support of voters nationally. That followed a poll released Monday on the Republican primary – in which Trump crushed his GOP opposition.