Bills, bills, bills
Former President Donald Trump’s PACs spent approximately $50 million on his legal expenses in 2023, according to a new report from The New York Times. On top of that, the Trump campaign spent more cash than it fundraised in the last three months of the year.
New campaign finance reports also reveal that Trump’s largest PAC, MAGA Inc., spent more than it raised in the last half of 2023. Where did a majority of that money go? $30 million of those funds were transferred back to the Save America PAC, one of the largest sources of funding for Trump’s legal defense.
Trump’s Save America PAC also paid Melania Trump’s stylist $18,000 a month for “strategy consulting.”
So yes, Trump’s fundraising abilities are impressive. But the legal fees and judgments are really starting to add up — and the trials for his four indictments haven’t even started yet.
Last month, a Manhattan jury ordered Trump to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million for defamation. And he is also awaiting New York Judge Arthur Engoron’s verdict in the New York civil fraud case; Attorney General Letitia James has called for a $370 million fine.
So whatever his financial circumstances, he is at risk of not having enough liquid assets to cover his legal fees and legal judgments. And relying on his political PACs to constantly bail him out is not a long-term solution.
A story you should be following: Tech companies sparking cooperation on the Hill
In a rare moment of bipartisanship on Tuesday, senators from both parties grilled five top tech CEOs on the issue of child online safety.
The committee room was filled with parents who say their children have been exploited by social media. At one point in the hearing, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pointed out that while he has “almost nothing in common” with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, they both “see an abuse here that needs to be dealt with.”
One proposed fix is the Kids Online Safety Act, but a number of LGBTQ+ organizations, free speech advocates and Gen Z TikTokers have expressed strong opposition to the bill, arguing it would prevent young people from accessing important information online.
I will be watching the next steps in this online safety legislation debate, and what kind of unlikely coalitions form along the way.
Some people you should know: Tony Montalto and Fred Guttenberg
Less than a month after 17 Parkland students and staff were killed in what became the deadliest U.S. high school shooting ever, then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a series of gun reforms into law. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act included a provision raising the legal age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.
Now, Florida House Republicans are trying to roll back the legal age to 18.
Tony Montalto, whose daughter Gina was killed in the Parkland shooting, testified before the Florida House subcommittee earlier this week in support of the current restrictions. Montalto told lawmakers, “Our current law is working, I implore each of you to remember that law is written in the blood of the victims, including my beautiful daughter, Gina.”
Fred Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was also murdered, similarly urged Gov. Ron DeSantis to speak out against the new bill.
DeSantis has yet to comment.
But it is clear that Tony and Fred are not giving up their fight to end gun violence.
Robert Gibbs' weekend routine
What show are you bingeing right now?
I’m late to it, but “Julia,” which is just terrific.
What’s the last book you read?
I re-read “The Boys in the Boat” after seeing the film over the holidays. It’s an amazing story of how perseverance and hard work can overcome so much and lead to extraordinary accomplishments.
What time do you wake up on the weekends?
Usually around 7 a.m. I just can’t seem to sleep late anymore!
How do you take your coffee?
With a large helping of hazelnut-flavored cream.