Republican seeks to bar party from paying Trump’s legal bills

By Thomson Reuters Feb 24, 2024 | 3:58 PM

By Helen Coster and Alexandra Ulmer

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A Republican National Committee member has submitted resolutions that would prohibit the party from paying presidential candidate Donald Trump’s legal bills, according to a draft, but the measures must get more backers soon to move forward.

Mississippi RNC committeeman Henry Barbour drafted the resolution on Trump’s legal expenses and another requiring the party committee to stay neutral in the presidential race until he receives enough delegates to secure the nomination.

“The RNC’s job is to win elections. It’s not to pay the legal bills for any leading candidate. He’s got to fight his own legal fight,” Barbour told Reuters on Saturday.

Barbour needs to get two cosponsors from 10 states to join the effort by Tuesday for the resolutions to proceed to a full vote by the RNC’s 168 committee members. That vote could come in March and would require a simple majority to pass. But Barbour predicted they would be defeated if they reach that point.

Former President Trump, who denies all wrongdoing, faces four criminal trials and was recently ordered to pay about $540 million in judgments in two civil cases.

A Trump super PAC reported paying more than $47 million in legal expenses for him in 2023.

Trump is seeking to cement his status as Republican presidential nominee and gain more control over the RNC, including by nominating daughter-in-law Lara Trump as co-chair.

Lara Trump has said it is “a big interest to people” to pay fees for her father-in-law’s criminal and civil cases.

Barbour said pro-Trump forces were “jumping the gun” by seeking to declare Trump the party’s presidential nominee while longshot challenger Nikki Haley remains in the race for the Republican nomination to face Democratic President Joe Biden in the November election. Trump is on course for another easy win in South Carolina’s primary on Saturday.

The resolutions were first reported by The Dispatch. Trump campaign co-manager Chris LaCivita, who Trump has proposed serve as the RNC’s chief operating officer, on Saturday said in a statement that it is “the RNC’s sole responsibility to defeat Joe Biden and win back the White House.”

On Friday, he said the RNC would not use raised funds to pay for Trump’s legal bills.

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York and Alexandra Ulmer in Columbia, South Carolina; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)