Axios reported Wednesday evening that Donald Trump’s presidential reelection campaign spent about $1.1 million in legal fees over the fourth quarter of 2017, part of which went to “his legal defense in the Russia probe”—a significant chunk of the $2.8 million it spent in total within the same period.
Reuters first reported last September that Trump had used both campaign and Republican National Committee funds to finance some of his legal fees associated with the Russia investigation.
In explaining how, exactly, this whole thing is legal, Axios notes:
Trump, using a precedent set by Barack Obama in 2008, turned down public funding for his campaign, allowing him to utilize privately donated cash with fewer restrictions. The exact amounts may become clearer when the RNC files a financial disclosure statement later this week. [...]
Past presidents have used these funds for routine legal expenses related to their campaigns, but Trump would be the first modern president to use them for a criminal matter.
The Federal Election Commission allows candidates to pay legal fees associated with being a political candidate or elected official with private funds.