Written by Hudson Crozier
*This article has been updated to reflect that Donald Trump’s first federal indictment in June did not lead to a significant increase in fundraising as his first indictment did in March.
What’s happening: Former President Donald Trump’s Save America PAC has spent over $40 million on legal fees for himself, advisers, and others this year. As Trump faces criminal charges and investigations ahead of his bid for reelection, the legal defense has become the PAC’s largest expense since he left office, coming out to about $56 million. Most of the funding comes from small donors across the country.
What’s about to happen: Trump was indicted yesterday for a third time regarding his attempts to rectify what he believes was a stolen election in 2020. He also faces a federal indictment over classified documents, business fraud charges in New York, and potentially more charges over the 2020 election in Georgia. Even the PAC itself is under investigation by the Department of Justice. Trump allies are reportedly creating another fund for witnesses and co-defendants in upcoming trials.
Between the lines: The former president’s legal troubles are a massive burden for his campaign. In this unprecedented situation, legal spending and campaign spending are one and the same for Trump. Whether intended or not, the legal attacks on him have turned into a political weapon used to drain Trump’s campaign resources.
- The other side: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s campaign, however, has accused him of grifting for personal benefit by using the funds this way. Others question its legality. These allegations, coupled with Trump's personal wealth and history of campaign finance controversies — including the misappropriated election defense fund — serve to compound the criticism surrounding him.
Can Trump pull it off? While support remains strong, Trump's campaign and fundraising organizations have spent over $4 million more than they raised in 2023 so far. A report also showed that his second “indictment boost” in fundraising* wasn’t as big as his first.