Trump campaign rejects effort to have RNC foot former president’s legal bills: ‘Hard no’

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FIRST ON FOX: Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is making it clear that the Republican National Committee (RNC) will not be covering a penny of the legal fees associated with his four pending criminal cases or other civil cases.

Speaking with Fox News Digital on Wednesday just hours after Nikki Haley ended her presidential bid, officially making Trump the presumptive nominee, a spokesman for the former president’s campaign said the RNC would “absolutely not” be providing any of its funds to alleviate his legal costs.

“Hard no. Absolutely not. Asked and answered,” the spokesperson said.

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Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump arrives for an election-night watch party at Mar-a-Lago on March 5, 2024, in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A report published by CNBC earlier in the day said there was a growing number of RNC committee members believing the organization should help pay Trump’s legal bills, and, according to one committee member, they represented “more than a majority” of those on the committee.

A proposed resolution to prohibit any funds being used on Trump’s legal defense failed to garner enough support to be considered at the RNC’s upcoming spring meeting in Houston this week, where the organization’s current chair, Ronna McDaniel, is expected to step down from her role.

McDaniel’s resignation comes after the RNC began the election year facing a shortage of cash compared to the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which held nearly three times the cash-on-hand reported by the former in its filings with the Federal Election Commission.

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Ronna McDaniel

Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, speaks during the Republican National Committee winter meeting in Dana Point, California, US, on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023. McDaniel won a fourth term as RNC chair, a status quo choice by party faithful even after a series of stinging election defeats with Donald Trump as GOP standard-bearer. Photographer: Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Last month, Trump endorsed Michael Whatley, the current chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, to replace McDaniel, as well as his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to be co-chair, and senior campaign advisor Chris LaCivita to be chief operating officer.

None have expressed plans, or even a desire, for the RNC to cover Trump’s legal costs should they be elected by members of the committee to those respective roles, and Lara Trump said following her father-in-law’s endorsement, that “every single penny” of RNC funds should go to ensuring he is elected president in November.

The narrative that Trump would rely on the RNC to cover his legal expenses appears to have originated with Haley following Trump’s endorsement of McDaniel’s potential successors, when she told CNN during an interview that he planned to make the organization his personal “piggy bank.”

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RNC Co-Chair candidate Lara Trump

Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, speaks to the media following a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina on February 21, 2024. (Brandon Gillespie/Fox News)

A number of liberal media organizations reported last month that Lara Trump, during a campaign stop in South Carolina in support of her father-in-law, said she believed Republican voters would “absolutely” be okay with contributions going toward those bills. However, she stated she was not familiar with the RNC’s rules on paying such costs, and appeared to be referencing Republicans in general supporting Trump financially, rather than the RNC.

It’s unclear, however, how Trump’s fundraising apparatus might continue to cover his legal costs after it shelled out nearly $50 million to pay them last year, according to FEC filings, or how that massive outflow, combined with the RNC’s money woes, could affect the former president’s path to winning in November.

The $50 million spent by Trump’s fundraising entities on his legal defense last year goes up to north of $90 million if spending in 2022 and 2021 is included. Combining that with Trump’s fundraising costs — which reach nearly half of the $282 million he’s raised — his cash burn rate amounts to a whopping 81%, leaving him just $0.19 per dollar raised.

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Joe Biden talking at podium, making a fist

President Joe Biden speaks at Abbotts Creek Community Center during an event to promote his economic agenda in Raleigh, North Carolina, on January 18, 2024.  (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

The financial struggles of the RNC and Trump campaign have attracted the attention of both the DNC and Biden campaign, who enjoy a joint fundraising agreement, allowing them to raise money collectively and capture a massive advantage heading into the election year.

“The RNC is already cash-strapped and chaotic, and trading one extreme out-of-touch Trump loyalist for another is not going to fix their problem. Donald Trump is going to be their nominee, and they clearly can’t afford it financially or electorally,” DNC spokesperson Alex Floyd told Fox News Digital, referencing the likelihood Trump’s RNC picks could end up in leadership roles.

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“How Trump and his allies burn through what little cash they have is up to them – our campaign is investing our record-setting haul where it counts: reaching out to voters early and often,” Biden campaign spokesperson Sarafina Chitika told Fox News Digital.

The RNC did not respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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