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Trump committee's spending on lawyers soars to $76 million, draining funds to fight Biden

A new campaign finance report shows the political committee covering a large portion of Donald Trump and allies' legal expenses across multiple court cases spent another $3.7 million on lawyers last month, and has now spent $76 million total on legal fees.

The presumptive Republican 2024 White House nominee is currently on criminal trial in New York City for charges stemming from alleged hush money payments to an adult film star to hide a sexual affair during his successful 2016 presidential campaign. Trump also is facing criminal charges in three other cases related to his handling of classified documents and efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and has contended with multiple civil lawsuits.

Those legal cases have been incredibly costly, draining money Trump otherwise could use to challenge President Joe Biden.

Trump's leadership PAC, Save America, has handled much of the former president's legal expenses. A report that Save America filed with the Federal Election Commission this weekend shows the committee spent another $3.7 million in March on payments to more than a dozens law firms, including two firms associated with Trump’s top lawyers in the hush money case.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media, flanked by lawyer Todd Blanche (R), after arriving for his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 22, 2024 in New York City. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records last year, which prosecutors say was an effort to hide a potential sex scandal, both before and after the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump's unprecedented criminal trial is set for opening statements after final jury selection ended Friday. (Photo by Victor J. Blue - Pool/Getty Images)

Todd Blanche’s firm, Blanche Law, received $730,000 and Susan Necheles’ firm, Necheles Law LLP, received $415,000.

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Save America also racked up another $886,000 in debt to three law firms. Most of that money, about $816,000, is owed to Robert & Robert PLLC. It owes another $50,000 to Blanche Law, and $20,000 to Level Law LTD.

While public records can’t say what, specifically, law firms are being paid to do, records show Save America has paid more than 70 different lawyers and law firms. Many of the firms are also listed in public court paperwork representing Trump in his civil and criminal cases.

The $76 million that Save America has spent on legal fees, according to a USA TODAY analysis, is an extraordinary sum that could hamstring Trump's efforts against Biden.

Monthly fundraising reports filed with the FEC over the weekend show Trump's main campaign account raised $15.3 million in March and has $45.1 million in cash on hand, while Biden raised $43.8 million and has $85.5 million in cash. The campaigns also raise funds through a variety of other committees.

Trump campaign Communications Director Steven Cheung called the legal cases against the former president "Witch-Hunts" and an abuse of power.

"President Trump's lawyers will continue to fight all of these Biden Trials and they will continue to be appropriately compensated for their time and efforts," Cheung said.

Campaign finance experts have raised concerns about Trump's use of campaign money to pay his legal bills in the criminal and civil cases.

"He appears to be spending an incredible amount of campaign finance money on legal expenses that range well beyond what would be considered campaign related,” Michael Kang, a law professor at Northwestern University, told USA TODAY last month. “I doubt, however, that we’ll get to the bottom of all this until much later on."

Federal law generally bans the use of campaign funds for personal expenses, but the FEC has exempted leadership PACs from that prohibition said Shanna Ports, senior legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a government accountability group.

"For years, groups like Campaign Legal Center have been urging the FEC to adopt a better interpretation of leadership PAC rules so voters can be assured their elected officials are not exploiting donor money for personal gain," Ports said. "Voters have a right to know that those asking for their money and their vote are running for office to represent the public, not to enrich themselves."

Stetson University law school Professor Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, who teaches courses on election law, said it “smells to high heaven to take political donations from people who can ill afford it to pay for a billionaire’s criminal legal defense fees.”

Trump's campaign also has been funneling money into his businesses at a time when he is facing serious legal jeopardy and desperately needs cash.

An FEC report filed this month show's Trump’s joint fundraising committee wrote three checks in February and one in March to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, totaling $411,287 and another in March to Trump National Doral Miami for $62,337.

Trump posted a $91.6 million bond in a defamation case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, and a $175 million bond in a fraud case involving falsifying business records.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump spending huge sums on legal bills, draining cash to fight Biden