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RNC Uses Donor Funds To Pay Donald Trumps Legal Bills In New York Criminal Investigation

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The Republican National Committee is paying some of former President Donald Trump’s personal legal bills in a New York criminal investigation examining his company’s business practices, the RNC admitted on Monday.

The RNC paid $ 121,670 to the law firm of Trump’s attorney, Ronald Fischetti, after a request from Trump’s team over the summer, according to the Washington Post. The RNC executive committee has approved the payments in recent weeks, a source said at the outlet. Although some party members have urged RNC chairperson Ronna McDaniel to be more independent from the former president, her allies told the Post that “Trump remains the biggest draw in the world. funds for the party, and it is important to stay in its good graces “.

The payments are highly unusual, especially since the New York investigation, led by Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James, has nothing to do with Trump’s presidential campaigns. or his stay at the White House. Rather, it is a long-term criminal investigation into the business practices of the Trump Organization and various other Trump private entities. A source close to the RNC’s decision told the Post that the party agreed to help pay Trump’s bills after James vowed to aggressively investigate the former president’s businesses. during his 2018 campaign for his current seat, although Trump has not been personally or directly accused of wrongdoing at this point.

“I will shine a bright light in every dark corner of his real estate dealings and every transaction, demanding truthfulness at every turn,” James told his supporters in his victory speech.

RELATED: Manhattan DA Summons New Grand Jury in Trump Organization Inquiry

The source told the outlet that the RNC is not paying Trump’s other legal bills, including those resulting from his battle with the House committee investigating his role in the Jan.6 riot on Capitol Hill.

“As the leader of our party, standing up for President Trump and his accomplishments is essential for the GOP,” the RNC said in a written statement. “It is only fitting that the RNC continues to help fight the Democrats’ endless witch-hunt and attacks against it.”

The RNC has already helped fund Trump’s legal bills, despite his claim to be a billionaire and his own massive political fundraising operation, which has more than $ 100 million in cash, according to the Post.

“The RNC is our important partner in advancing America First policies and combating endless witch hunts,” said Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich. “Democrats have become obsessed with arming their offices against President Trump, which is a complete abandonment of their constitutional obligations.”

The RNC had previously paid lawyers representing Trump and his son Donald TrumpJr. in the investigation of Russia and other surveys related to the campaign. The payments drew a complaint from the Federal Election Commission because the funds came from an account intended solely for recounts and other election-related procedures, although the FEC ultimately dismissed the complaint because it had not yet “provided an account. advice ”on the use of these accounts. The latest payments were from the RNC’s general account, which means they’re unlikely to violate campaign finance law, Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center told the Post.

But party committees have avoided paying personal legal bills for fear of losing their tax-exempt status. While the RNC’s spending in the Russia investigation was tied to Trump’s presidency and campaign, the idea that the New York criminal investigation is tied to Trump’s policies “seems like a real stretch.” , Fischer told the outlet.

“Ronna McDaniel and the Republican National Committee are using their donors’ money to fund Trump’s personal legal defense while he has hundreds of millions of his own money as well as campaign funds,” said Adonna Biel, door – speech of the Democratic National Committee. CNN. “This is today’s GOP, a party that will do anything for a divisive and incompetent ex-president that has cost their party the House, Senate and White House and thousands of people. Americans their lives and their livelihoods. If we were the donors to the RNC, we would definitely be asking questions. “

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New York prosecutors have been investigating the Trump Organization for years. Over the summer, Vance indicted longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and two of Trump’s companies with tax evasion offenses. Weisselberg and the Trump Companies have pleaded not guilty.

Earlier this month, Vance called a new grand jury to hear new evidence in connection with the investigation. Prosecutors are examining whether the Trump Organization has inflated the value of its assets to secure loans while deflating the value of the same assets on its tax bills, something longtime former Trump Organization vice president Michael Cohen, alleged during testimony before Congress in 2019. Cohen has since met with New York prosecutors more than half a dozen times.

Prosecutors are examining documents related to properties such as Trump’s building at 40 Wall Street, which the company told potential lenders was worth $ 527 million, while telling tax authorities it was worth 16, $ 7 million, according to the Post. The company’s valuation of its California golf club also ranged from $ 900,000 to $ 25 million, according to the public. An estate in the New York suburbs was also an estate valued by the company between $ 56 million and $ 291 million.

“It’s way beyond anything believable,” said Norm Miller, professor of real estate finance at the University of San Diego. “I have never seen anything with such an extreme gap.”

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