RNC Paying Donald Trump's Legal Bills Reveals GOP Remains Hitched to Former President

The Republican National Committee (RNC) is paying for some of President Donald Trump's personal legal bills in a clear indication that the party remains tied to their 2020 presidential candidate.

In October, the RNC made two payments totaling $121,670 to the law firm of attorney Ronald Fischetti, who was hired by Trump in April amid investigations into the former president's business dealings in New York.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York Attorney General Letitia James, who are both Democrats, have been investigating the Trump Organization and are probing some of the company's property valuations.

Trump retained Fischetti in light of the investigations. He is a veteran defense attorney.

The former president hasn't been accused of wrongdoing.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the Republican Party's executive committee approved the payments in recent weeks, though requests were made in early summer.

The newspaper cited "a person with direct knowledge of the payments."

The RNC's decision to cover some of Trump's personal legal bills will be seen as an indication that the GOP is still hitched to the former president, and a Republican Party statement to the Post appeared to confirm this.

"As a leader of our party, defending President Trump and his record of achievement is critical to the GOP," the party said. "It is entirely appropriate for the RNC to continue assisting in fighting back against the Democrats' never ending witch hunt and attacks on him."

Trump has no official status within the Republican Party and isn't currently an elected official, but he remains the de facto leader of the GOP and has continued to offer endorsements to some Republican candidates.

A series of polls has also shown that Republican voters still favor Trump as the party's candidate for the 2024 nomination, while the former president has repeatedly hinted at another White House run.

Though he may face opponents for the party's nomination including former Vice President Mike Pence, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Trump is the candidate to beat.

Some Republicans have tried to distance themselves from the former president, with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell repeatedly urging his party to move on from the 2020 election.

However, Trump remains a powerful force in the GOP and his continued claims of voter fraud in the election have found support with many of the party's elected officials.

Even those GOP candidates who've maintained their distance from Trump have found the former president tying himself to them. Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin kept Trump at arm's length and the former president didn't campaign for him in person.

Nonetheless, Trump publicly claimed Youngkin's victory was down to his own supporters and touted his role in the governor's race.

Continuing Role and Influence

The RNC's willingness to pay some of Trump's legal bills is likely an indication of his continuing role and influence.

Trump spokesperson Taylor Budowich issued a statement to The Washington Post saying: "The RNC is our important partner in advancing America First policies and fighting back against the endless witch hunts."

"The Democrats have become obsessed with weaponizing their offices against President Trump, which is a complete abandonment of their Constitutional obligations," Budowich said.

Former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg was indicted in July on 15 counts, including grand larceny, related to an alleged 15-year scheme of tax evasion. The Trump Organization was similarly indicted on 15 counts and both Weisselberg and the company have entered not guilty pleas.

The Washington Post also reported that the RNC is not paying for other Trump legal bills, including challenges to the House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the events of January 6.

The former president has said the New York investigations are politically motivated.

Letitia James has insisted her investigation into the Trump Organization isn't driven by politics, telling Bloomberg in January: "I took a solemn oath to follow the law." James recently announced a run for governor.

Vance is retiring as Manhattan DA at the end of the year and will be succeeded by the recently elected Alvin Bragg, also a Democrat, who will take over his investigations.

Trump Prepares to Speak at a Rally
Former U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to speak at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021, in Phoenix, Arizona. The Republican National Committee is paying for some of Trump's personal legal bills. Brandon Bell/Getty Images