Trump group spends big on legal fees; Biden leads at fundraising

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - WASHINGTON, April 21 — Donald Trump’s political group that pays his legal bills on yesterday reported spending US$3.6 million on lawyer fees in March, draining the finances backing Trump’s White House bid as the Republican trailed President Joe Biden at raising money.

Trump is facing four criminal trials — including one which began this week — as he mounts an expensive campaign to challenge Biden, a Democrat, in the November 5 presidential election.

Trump’s Save America group, which reported the outlays to the Federal Election Commission, is spending money largely raised from small donors, though the funds available could be dwindling.

The group, which is separate from Trump’s campaign but was his biggest fundraising group before he announced his candidacy, reported taking in just over US$10,000 from donors in March.

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It was able to cover spending by taking a US$5 million refund of money it had previously given a super PAC backing Trump’s campaign known as Maga Inc.

Save America has now clawed back more than US$52 million of US$60 million it had previously given Maga Inc, reducing considerably the amount of money Maga Inc has available for television ads backing Trump.

While Save America has not disclosed the details of how much it has spent on each of Trump’s legal cases, its filings show that since the start of 2023 it has spent more than US$59 million on lawyer fees.

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Trump was in court this week as a defendant on charges he falsified business records to cover up hush money payments to a porn start.

His three other pending criminal trials relate to his efforts to overturn his loss to Biden in the 2020 presidential election and to charges he mishandled classified documents after leaving the White House in 2021. Trump is also appealing a US$454 million civil fraud judgment, a threat to his personal finances.

Trump’s political operation is also facing monetary challenges, disclosures to the Federal Election Commission showed.

His campaign reported raising US$15 million in March, up from around US$11 million February but not enough to make up financial ground with Biden, who has had a persistent edge in fundraising.

Biden’s campaign raised more than US$43 million in March and ended the month with US$85 million in the bank. Trump’s campaign said it ended the month with US$45 million in cash.

Public opinion polls show the two locked in a tight race.

Campaign contributions pay for ads, staff and rallies but don’t determine the winner. Trump was outraised in 2016 by Democrat Hillary Clinton and still beat her in that year’s presidential election.

While Trump’s money raising among small donors has appeared to flag, Trump in recent weeks has held fundraising events to court big donors, helping the Republican Party raise more than US$20 million in March, nearly double what it collected a month earlier, the party reported on Saturday.

Maga Inc, the super PAC supporting Trump’s bid, reported having US$33 million in the bank at the end of March, while Future Forward, the main Democratic super PAC backing Biden, reported having over US$41 million. — Reuters

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