GOP donors and officials are irked by the Republican National Committee’s decision to pay the legal bills of former President Donald Trump, according to a CNN report.
The RNC has paid $121,670 to a lawyer Trump hired to represent him in legal proceedings initiated by New York prosecutors, explaining to The Washington Post that “it is entirely appropriate for the RNC to continue assisting in fighting back against the Democrats’ never ending witch hunt and attacks on him.”
But the investigation in New York is probing the Trump Organization’s financial dealings, a topic that has nothing to do with his political responsibilities. Trump also has plenty of resources – Forbes pits his net worth at $2.5 billion and he has at least $102 million in various PACs.
“This is not normal. Nothing about this is normal, especially since he’s not only a former President but a billionaire,” a former top RNC official told CNN.
“What does any of this have to do with assisting Republicans in 2022 or preparing for the 2024 primary?” the official added.
Bill Palatucci, a national committeeman from New Jersey, said the fact that the RNC made the payments to Trump’s attorneys in October was particularly frustrating given his own plea to party officials that same month for additional resources as the New Jersey GOP sought to push Republican Jack Ciattarelli over the finish line in his challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.
“We sure as heck could have used $121,000,” Palatucci told CNN.
Trump is flirting with a run for president in 2024, which further complicates matters. The RNC, according to its own rules, is supposed to be neutral if Trump face primary challengers, but their financial ties signal a special relationship.
More from CNN:
A third RNC official described the relationship between Trump and the national party as “a hostage situation,” claiming that Trump could devastate the GOP if he decided to leave the party or encouraged his supporters to stop contributing to it at any point, including if the RNC no longer agrees to cover portions of his legal bills.
“They can’t disentangle themselves from him because they need him,” this person said.
“Ronna McDaniel and the Republican National Committee are using their donors’ money to finance Trump’s personal legal defense while he sits on hundreds of millions of his own money as well as campaign funds,” DNC spokesperson Adonna Biel said in a statement. “If we were the RNC’s donors, we would certainly be asking questions.”