Story highlights

Legal consulting fees account for $1 in every $10 the campaign has spent this year

Last financial quarter, 24% of the campaign's legal bills bankrolled the legal fees of Trump's eldest son

Washington CNN  — 

President Donald Trump’s campaign donors – big and small – are increasingly helping to foot the legal expenses the President’s campaign and his son, Donald Trump Jr., are facing related to the investigations into allegations of collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign is driving a steadily rising share of its contributions to the lawyers representing the Trump campaign and the President’s son. Legal consulting fees account for $1 of every $10 the campaign has spent this year, according to a review of campaign finance records.

And last financial quarter, 24% of the campaign’s legal bills bankrolled the legal fees of Trump’s eldest son, who has drawn the attention of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller because of his meeting last summer with a Russian attorney he believed would provide him with incriminating information from the Russian government about his father’s opponent Hillary Clinton.

Some of the campaign’s more than $2 million in legal spending this year is due to the campaign’s efforts to comply with records requests from the special counsel and the congressional committees that are also investigating Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

It’s not clear precisely what share of the campaign’s legal costs are tied to the Russia-related investigations beyond the $318,000 disbursed to Trump Jr.’s attorneys. The Trump campaign’s executive director Michael Glassner did not respond to CNN requests for comment.

But while the Republican National Committee, which this summer began footing some of the President’s personal legal bills related to the Russia inquiries, has walled off donations to its general coffers from its legal fund, every dollar donated to the Trump campaign can be used to pay for legal expenses.

The RNC system means that legal expenses are largely funded by the party’s wealthiest donors who contribute to the legal fund to comply with campaign finance limits while also cutting six-figure checks. The Trump campaign, it appears, can draw as much from those who make the maximum contribution as from those who send in $10 and $50 checks to fund legal expenses.

“What this means is that people who are giving to help re-elect Trump are actually paying for legal fees – and that money will not be there during the election,” said Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission who is now senior director at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan group of election law experts.