With the 2018 midterms underway, President Trump's reelection campaign and two affiliated committees entered the third quarter with a massive fundraising haul of $90 million and a steep decline in attorneys' fees, which have consumed his reelection expenses since he took office.
Trump’s campaign committee and two fundraising committees that are joint operations with the Republican National Committee — Trump Victory and the Trump Make America Great Again Committee — together raised $17.7 million in the second quarter, for a total of about $90 million in the 2018 cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records filed Sunday evening.
Unlike his predecessors, Trump began fundraising for 2020 soon after he won the presidency. He continues to energize small-dollar donors, FEC filings show. In the second quarter of 2018, 62 percent of the direct contributions to his campaign committee came from donations of $200 or less.
Lara Trump, the president’s daughter-in-law and senior adviser to his campaign committee, in a statement called the small-dollar donations a sign of “the continued support of so many Americans who resoundingly approve of Donald Trump’s performance as President.”
The three committees reported $53.5 million total in cash on hand at the end of the quarter.
Also in the second quarter, the campaign reported a significant decline in attorneys' fees, both in the total amount paid in legal consulting fees and the share of legal fees as a part of its total spending, filings show.
Its attorneys' fees totaled $338,254, or less than 10 percent of the $3.6 million it spent from April through June, filings show. That represents a drop of nearly $500,000 since the first quarter of 2018, and a notable decline from the last quarter of 2017, when legal fees surged to $1.1 million.
It was unclear Sunday whether the attorneys’ fees are being absorbed by the legal defense fund set up for Trump’s aides. A representative for the fund did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Since the president took office, his reelection committee has posted six- to seven-figure sums per quarter in legal consulting fees to law firms representing the campaign, Trump, and former and current aides in a variety of legal matters, including the ongoing Russia investigation.
In all, the campaign committee has spent $4.3 million on legal consulting fees since Trump took office. In the second quarter, the committee’s payments went to eight law firms and the Trump Corp., a company being run by Trump’s two older sons.
The campaign paid less this quarter than in the previous quarter to almost every law firm — notably to Jones Day, which represents the campaign in the investigations by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and several congressional committees into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The two fundraising committees that jointly raise money with the Republican National Committee paid another $28,000 to Jones Day this quarter, records show.
It paid another $48,341 to McDermott Will & Emery, a firm that represents Trump's onetime lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen in the ongoing Russia investigations and a newly revealed criminal inquiry. That was an uptick from last quarter, but overall a sharp decline from 2017.
In April, federal prosecutors in Manhattan revealed in court papers that Cohen, whose office and residences were raided by the FBI, had been under investigation for months.
The campaign also paid law firms Harder LLP; LaRocca Hornik Rosen Greenberg & Blaha; Belkin Burden Wenig & Goldman LLP; Schertler & Onorato LLP; Seyfarth Shaw LLP; and Van Hoy, Reutlinger, Adams & Dunn PLLC.
The campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the legal fees Sunday evening.
The campaign spent $147,105 on Trump's properties this quarter, with about $12,230 going to the Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Sunday's filings also showed strong fundraising hauls by individual congressional campaigns.
Among the larger totals posted by congressional candidates were those of the leadership PAC for House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), which raised $1.8 million.
George Flinn, running for a House seat in Tennessee against Republican incumbent Rep. David Kustoff, raised $1.5 million, nearly all of which is his own. Democrat Andrew Janz, fighting to unseat Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), also raised just over $1 million.
This post has been updated.