Trump’s legal fees eat into his campaign funds as millions more drained from coffers

Donald Trump’s legal fees are taking a chunk out of his campaign funds – with one of the groups that has underwritten many of those costs having spent nearly $3.7m last month.

Figures released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show this is what the Save America political action committee (PAC) spent in March, amounting to nearly three in every four dollars it raised during the same period. It comes as Trump faces a number of legal cases – with his trial over allegations he tried to cover up a $130,000 hush-money payment to adult star Stormy Daniels to begin hearing evidence on Monday. Trump denies all the charges against him.

The money Save America spent on legal expenses rivals the $3.7 million Trump’s campaign committee spent altogether in March. It comes after President Joe Biden’s campaign spent $29.2 million on his campaign in March, including a barrage of media buys in swing states.

Save America, which is separate from Trump's campaign but was his biggest fundraising group before he announced his candidacy, reported taking in just over $10,000 from donors in March. It was able to cover spending by taking a $5 million refund of money it had previously given to a super PAC backing Trump's campaign known as MAGA Inc.

Save America has now clawed back more than $52 million of $60 million it had previously given MAGA Inc, reducing considerably the amount of money MAGA Inc has available for television ads backing Trump.

While Save America has not disclosed the details of how much it has spent on each of Trump's legal cases, its filings show that since the start of 2023 it has spent more than $59 million on lawyer fees.

But the former president may still struggle to keep up with Mr Biden, who has increased his spending sharply in the run-up to November, having spent $45.2 million on media advertising since the beginning of the year, compared with Trump’s $6 million. Mr Biden’s principal campaign committee entered April with $85.5 million stockpiled in its war chest, while Trump’s main campaign account had $45.1 million.

But while Trump's money raising among small donors has appeared to flag, Trump in recent weeks has held fundraising events to court big donors, helping the Republican Party raise more than $20 million in March, nearly double what it collected a month earlier, the party reported on Saturday.

Reuters contributed to this report