Amid mounting court battles, former President Donald Trump's legal fees cost his political fundraising committees more than $50 million in 2023, leaving his leadership PAC that once boasted a $100 million war chest with just $5.1 million in the bank entering 2024, according to his latest campaign disclosures.
And those 2023 legal bills came before Trump last week was ordered to pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages for defaming her in 2019. Trump is appealing both the jury verdict of defamation and the subsequent penalties imposed by a second jury.
In a separate case, a New York Judge is also weighing whether to fine Trump as much as $370 million plus interest in the former president's civil fraud trial.
As Trump's legal battles ramped up in the second half of last year, so did his legal spending -- with his political action committees reporting a total of $34 million in legal expenditures in the second half of last year compared to roughly $26 million in the first half, according to the disclosures.
Trump's leadership PAC, Save America, continued to foot much of Trump's legal bills in the second half of last year, spending nearly $26 million on legal fees and other related expenses, while only raising $6 million.
Entering 2024, Save America -- which, at one point following the 2020 election boasted a $100 million war chest -- had only $5.1 million in cash on hand, filings showed.
The Make America Great Again PAC, Trump's former presidential campaign committee, reported $4.1 million in legal spending in the second half of 2023. Trump's current presidential campaign committee reported roughly $3.8 million in legal bills.
According to filings, Make America Great Again Inc. -- a super PAC supporting Trump this cycle that had received $60 million in contributions from Save America in 2022 when Save America was sitting on a massive war chest -- refunded more than $42 million back to Save America last year as the leadership PAC's cash on hand got depleted.
Among Trump's legal bills, he paid the legal team handling his civil fraud case $11 million through his Save America PAC in the second half of last year.
The law firm of Clifford Robert, which represents Trump's sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., received $3.9 million from Save America. The leadership PAC paid Trump attorney Chris Kise, who represents Trump in his civil fraud trial and is part of the legal team in his federal classified documents case, $2.3 million through his firm Chris Kise & Associates, and $2.6 million through his firm Continental PLLC.
Alina Habba, Trump's legal spokesperson who represents several former Trump Organization executives in the civil fraud case and is Trump's lead counsel in his defamation case, received $2.3 million through her firm.
Ahead of his criminal trials, Trump spent $2.5 million on his criminal defense attorney in his federal election interference case, John Lauro; $1.5 million on his criminal defense attorney in his Georgia election interference case, Steven Sadow; and $2 million on his criminal defense attorney Todd Blanche.
Meanwhile, Trump's joint fundraising committee, which splits its contributions between Trump's presidential campaign and Save America in a 90/10 ratio, reported raising a healthy $75 million in the second half of last year, its filing shows.
But the committee spent nearly $28 million of that on fundraising, campaign merchandise and other operating expenditures, leaving just under $50 million to be transferred to the campaign committee and Save America PAC.
Trump's campaign committee reported bringing in $19 million in the final three months of 2023, down from his $25 million haul in the previous quarter but still more than the $17 million his Republican challenger Nikki Haley's campaign committee brought in during the same period.
Entering 2024, the Trump campaign had more than double what Haley's campaign had in the bank, with the Trump campaign reporting $33 million in cash on hand by the end of 2023 compared to the Haley campaign's $14 million.
And despite the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Great Again Inc. refunding more than $40 million of its Save America contributions, it sat on a much bigger war chest going into 2024 compared to that of pro-Haley super PAC SFA Fund Inc., with the two groups reporting $23 million and $3.5 million in cash on hand, respectively.
Trump spent more than $50M of his PAC and super PAC money on legal bills in 2023 originally appeared on abcnews.go.com