ALL ABOUT TIMING
Trump Campaign Paid Don Jr.’s Lawyer $50,000 Two Weeks Before Email Scandal
About two weeks before the release of Donald Trump Jr.'s emails, his father’s reelection campaign began paying the law firm now representing him.
About two weeks before the release of emails showing Donald Trump Jr. seeking opposition research from attorneys representing the Russian government, his father’s reelection campaign began paying the law firm now representing Trump Jr. in the ensuing political and legal fallout.
A new filing with the Federal Election Commission shows that President Trump’s reelection campaign paid $50,000 to the law offices of Alan Futerfas on June 26. That was around the time, Yahoo News reports, that the president’s legal team learned of a June 2016 email exchange in which Trump Jr., through an associate, solicited damaging information about 2016 election rival Hillary Clinton.
When the New York Times revealed the email, and the meeting it set up, last week, Trump Jr. hired Futerfas, who is best known for representing four of New York’s major Italian mob families. The announcement of the hire came not from the Trump campaign but from the president’s company, where Trump Jr. remains a trustee.
Trump Jr. does not yet face any official allegations of legal wrongdoing, but he and the White House have scrambled to contain the political fallout from the controversy.
The first son has offered numerous explanations—most of them contradicted by subsequent developments—for the meeting with the Russian lawyers, whom Trump’s friend told him were representatives of the Russian government and providing information to the campaign as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to support Trump’s candidacy.
It was not immediately clear whether the campaign expenditure was renumeration for Futerfas’s representation of Trump’s son, on Russia-related or other matters. But the payment sticks out on a presidential campaign’s expenditure list: Futerfas’s expertise is in white collar criminal defense, not political and election law.
The Trump campaign’s FEC filing shows significant expenditures on legal representation as it wades through scrutiny involving alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. As part of that investigation, the FBI is examining whether the Trump campaign guided Russian disinformation efforts aimed at key voting precincts.
The consulting firm owned by Brad Parscale, the former Trump campaign digital director at the center of that controversy, received more than $2 million in payments from the campaign in the second quarter.
According to the FEC filing, which was released on Saturday, 15% of the more than $4.3 million spent by the Trump campaign from April through June went towards legal representation.
That included the payment to Futerfas’s firm and more than half a million dollars to the powerhouse Washington law firm Jones Day, which has represented the Trump campaign since early in the 2016 election cycle.
But the campaign also settled on a new vendor for legal consulting services: the Trump Corporation itself. The FEC filing shows that the campaign paid the company nearly $90,000 three days after its payment to Futerfas.
The campaign has steered millions of dollars to Trump companies since 2015, but that appears to be the first time it paid a Trump entity for legal services.
Additional Trump companies received another $120,000 in campaign payments in the second quarter, the FEC filing shows.