Saturday, October 21, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He earmarked $430,000 of his own money to buy lawyers for White House staffers who might have to testify against him in the Russia probe.

White House officials speaking on background confirmed today that Trump will "aspirationally" set aside $430,000 for a legal defense fund covering certain White House and Trump campaign employees. Not everyone who is interviewed by investigators is necessarily suspected of conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election and install Trump, but in a criminal investigation of this magnitude, even wholly innocent potential witnesses are well advised to retain legal counsel--and that can be very expensive. Trump himself is relying largely on the Republican National Committee to pay for the army of lawyers he and his son Donald Jr. have retained. 

This is where Trump's money might help--but because the money would be coming from the man who is likely to be investigators' ultimate target, the ethical and legal ramifications of such a donation is murky at best. Trump claims he has been working with the Office of Government Ethics on creating the fund, but he has a history of ignoring that office when he doesn't feel like following its instructions. Former OGE director Walter Shaub, who resigned in protest over Trump's refusal to enforce or abide by ethics rules, called attention to the problem of an accused criminal paying for witnesses' lawyers

There is also Trump's long history of reneging on financial promises to consider. Trump promises money extravagantly, but rarely fulfills those promises, and then usually only under great duress.

Why should I care about this?

  • It shouldn't even be possible to wonder if a president is trying to tamper with potential witnesses against him.