President Donald Trump has reportedly pledged nearly half a million dollars from his personal fortune to defray the legal bills White House and campaign staff have accumulated in connection with the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
An unnamed White House official told Axios Saturday that Trump will pay out $430,000 “to defray the costs of legal fees for his associates, including former and current White House aides.”
The fees associated with the investigation are likely to run tens of millions of dollars.
It is unclear if Trump will offer financial assistance to two former aides on whom special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation has focused — former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Both men have already retained private counsel.
Whatever the president’s motives, the move could raise ethical concerns, as cash-strapped White House aides may depend in significant part on Trump’s beneficence to secure adequate representation, which might compromise the integrity of their statements to investigators. Elite Washington law firms can charge nearly $1,000 an hour for their services, an impossibly large sum for most government officials.
“We’re working on appropriate legal and ethical approval,” a White House official said.
Editor’s note: the original story contained an incorrect statement regarding the RNC, which has been amended.
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