Trump infighting risks rise as allies face legal bills, cash crunch

Trump infighting risks rise as allies face legal bills, cash crunch

The multiplying charges brought against allies of former President Trump and their mounting legal fees are creating consternation in Trump world — while presenting a real risk to the former president.

Trump has burned through millions of dollars in donor money to pay for legal fees as he defends himself against charges in New York City, Florida, Georgia and Washington, D.C.

But the former president, who has built a reputation for stiffing workers, has shown no interest in providing financial aid to former aides charged over their efforts to keep him in power.

Former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani has listed his Manhattan apartment for sale, and several Trump allies have launched crowdfunding campaigns to pay for their defenses.

Some of those who face charges in Georgia have been released on bond agreements totaling as much as $100,000.

The growing bills have already prompted complaints that Trump isn’t footing the bill.

“I was reliably informed Trump isn’t funding any of us who are indicted,” onetime Trump attorney Jenna Ellis wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Would this change if he becomes the nominee? Why then, not now? I totally agree this has become a bigger principle than just one man. So why isn’t MAGA, Inc. funding everyone’s defense?”

As Trump’s aid to allies trickles, some warn failing to take on their legal bills could come back to haunt him if associates seek to cooperate with prosecutors.

“He has no legal obligation to pay anybody’s fees. Moral? Perhaps,” said Tim Parlatore, who represented Trump in the Mar-a-Lago case and has represented Bernard Kerik, a Giuliani associate, in dealing with the federal and Georgia cases related to Jan. 6.

“But it’s a good idea because here’s what DOJ does. DOJ obviously they have, I hesitate to say the word limitless resources, but pretty close. And one of their standard tactics is to bleed the defendant and witnesses dry,” he added. “And once they can bleed you dry to where all of your life savings have been sucked up by somebody like me … then you’re far more pliable and willing to plead guilty to just about anything to stop the bleeding.”

In other cases, Trump has provided attorneys or covered bills for those swept up in the investigations, including in the Mar-a-Lago probe where special counsel Jack Smith’s team spoke with numerous employees who work at the property.

That now includes covering the legal bills of Walt Nauta and Carlos De Oliveira, who are accused of helping Trump obstruct justice by moving boxes of classified documents and later conspiring to delete security camera footage from the property.

The superseding indictment noted a discussion around making sure “Carlos is good” and that Trump promised to get him an attorney.

But the mounting Jan. 6-related cases are being handled differently as defendants are added to the list.

A MAGA Inc. official declined to respond to Ellis’s suggestion that the super PAC fund her legal costs, noting the organization has not done so for any other individuals.

Save America, a committee Trump launched after the 2020 election that fundraised off claims of the election being stolen, was the primary committee that helped pay down the former president’s legal bills, according to campaign finance reports.

Ellis, attorney John Eastman and former Justice Department official Jeff Clark have launched crowdfunding pages where they are collecting donations for what is described as their respective legal defense funds. All three pages frame the beneficiaries as victims of politically motivated attacks.

All three were charged in Georgia, and Eastman and Clark are believed to be among the six unindicted co-conspirators described in the federal case against Trump in Washington for his efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

“Donald’s an idiot,” Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen told CNN. “Let me just be very clear: When it comes to paying money, he is truly an idiot. He has not learned yet that … three people you don’t want to throw under the bus like that: your lawyer, your doctor and your mechanic. Because one way or the other, you’re going to go down the hill, and there’ll be no brakes.”

He mused that Giuliani could present the biggest risk for Trump. Although he’s facing charges in Georgia, he has yet to be indicted in the federal Jan. 6 case, despite being listed as a co-conspirator.

“Allegedly, from Rudy’s own mouth, he claims that he has smoking gun information about Donald,” Cohen said, adding later, “He’s going to need to speak, and he’s going to need to speak before everybody else does.”

Giuliani is facing some of the steepest debts as his cases pile up.

Beyond the two criminal cases tied to Jan. 6, he’s also facing three defamation suits related to comments he made while seeking to help Trump unwind the 2020 results — two from voting equipment companies and another from a mother-daughter duo serving as election workers in Georgia. He’s also facing disbarment proceedings in New York and Washington, matters in which he also has secured attorneys.

In recent proceedings in the cases, Guiliani’s attorneys have noted his inability to pay for bills, as well as the apparent cutting off of assistance from Trump’s PAC after it initially provided him with $400,000 this year to help cover the cost of preserving his records as evidence in court cases.

“These are a lot of bills that he’s not paying,” Giuliani’s attorney Adam Katz told a New York state court earlier this month in a defamation suit brought by voting equipment company Smartmatic. “I think this is very humbling for Mr. Giuliani.”

CNN reported last week that Giuliani and his attorney traveled to Florida in April to appeal to Trump to help cover some of Giuliani’s legal fees. Trump reportedly did not seem especially interested, though he verbally agreed to help with some of Giuliani’s legal bills without committing to a specific amount or time frame.

A spokesman for Giuliani did not respond to a request for comment.

The former mayor is far from the only Trump associate with ongoing legal battles.

Sidney Powell, who aided with Trump’s post-election cases, is also facing a defamation suit from Dominion. And Eastman and Clark have hired attorneys to represent them in proceedings to strip their law license.

One source dismissed the suggestion that Trump should be covering the legal bills of co-defendants in Georgia, calling it “inane.”

Trump has complained on social media that his mounting legal cases were forcing his campaign “to spend vast amounts of money on legal fees, thereby having less to spend” on political ads.

A source familiar with Trump’s PAC spending said the Trump team spent too much money upfront, acquiring high legal bills from attorneys well in advance of the trials now facing them.

“What you’ve got here is you have a lot of lawyers that I think are being very abusive in their billing practices. And they basically see this as a piggy bank that they can raid to run up the bill without actually providing value commensurate with the amount of money they’re getting paid,” the source said.

“And it then causes the problem that you have here where, oh my god, people are spending like drunken sailors. And all these millions and millions of dollars got spent. And now when Rudy actually has to stay out of jail, there’s nothing left to help Rudy stay out of jail. And they’re starting to get real tight with things because now they’re looking at four trials coming up.”

This story was updated at 1 p.m.

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