According to a Bloomberg report, President Donald J. Trump will start paying his own legal bills related to the Russia probe, saving his campaign and the Republican National Committee from having to pay them. He is also finalizing a plan to use personal funds for the legal costs his current and former White House staff are facing over the probe.
According to reports, until now, Trump’s legal bills were being covered by the RNC. So far, Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow has received $131,250 and attorney John Dowd has received $100,000.
In October, White House officials said Trump had pledged at least $430,000 of his own money to help White House staffers and those associated with the president’s 2016 presidential campaign pay legal bills as they continued to be hounded about Russian meddling during the campaign.
According to Bloomberg:
The Office of Government Ethics and a tax firm are working on a mechanism for Trump to contribute to staffers’ legal bills that would meet regulatory and ethical standards, White House lawyer Ty Cobb said in an interview. The White House is hoping the issue will be resolved shortly, said Cobb, who declined to elaborate further on the details of the plan.
There is no legal issue that prevents the president from giving gifts to staffers. However, in this case it might raise doubts about how those gifts impact the answers the staffers give when giving testimony, said Walter Shaub, former head of the Office of Government Ethics.
Cobb said the White House has been taking steps to address those concerns.
“The president has assumed responsibility for his own legal fees and, while he isn’t involved directly in the creation of a mechanism to take care of staffers, it is important to him that they be taken care of and whatever approach is agreed upon by OGE and relevant tax authorities be bulletproof,” said Cobb.
According to the report, one interview with a congressional committee or Mueller could exceed $30,000 in legal costs. And legal fees for Trump and White House officials could be high, depending on how long Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues.
Cobb expects Mueller to complete interviews with White House staff after Thanksgiving, and conclude his investigation early in 2018. Others say the investigations may continue into next year.
Despite his efforts, President Trump may not be able to make a contribution to the staffers’ legal fund, a source told Bloomberg, depending what the ethics and tax officials come up with in their final plan.