When American donors send contributions to political parties, they probably have certain expectations about how the money will be spent. Perhaps the donations will be used to buy campaign advertisements, for example. Maybe the funds will go towards yard signs and mailings.
When it comes to Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, however, things have long been a little different.
Just eight months into the former president's term, the public learned that the RNC was helping pay Trump's legal bills as part of the investigation into the Russia scandal. As Rachel noted on the show at the time, no other American president had ever used donor money this way — a decision made all the more curious given Trump's alleged independent wealth.
The defense in 2017 was that RNC leaders felt the need to support their own party's president. The Russia scandal was clearly part of Trump's presidency — it's not as if Republican donors were paying for legal expenses wholly unrelated to political developments — which in turn made the arrangement justifiable.
More than four years later, however, the RNC is still helping pick up the tab for Trump's lawyers. The Washington Post reported:
The Republican National Committee is paying some personal legal bills for former president Donald Trump, spending party funds to pay a lawyer representing Trump in investigations into his financial practices in New York, a party spokeswoman said Monday.
Part of what makes revelations like these interesting is the root cause of the former president's legal expenses: In this instance, Trump is dealing with investigations into his financial practices that pre-date his political career. In other words, Trump allegedly committed financial misdeeds before heading down the escalator in June 2015; those alleged transgressions are now being scrutinized by law enforcement; the former president feels the need to hire lawyers; and the RNC has effectively told Trump, "Don't worry, we'll help pay these bills for you."
Making matters even more amazing, the former president — who, again, claims to have vast wealth — has spent the last year aggressively raising as much money as humanly possible from his committed followers. As the Post's report added, Trump's "built an independent political operation, which at last count had more than $100 million on hand."
And yet, there's the Republican National Committee, writing checks for Trump anyway.
The Post also noted, "RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel has come under pressure from some members to show more independence from Trump." How's that working out?