At issue was the RNC’s apparent use of a fund designated for the costs associated with election-related legal proceedings — like recounts and contests — to pay for lawyers who represented Trump and Trump Jr. in the Russia probes by the Justice Department and Congress. Activities “paid for by the recount fund must have no relation to campaign activities,” the commission has previously said.
Still, the commission said, it has yet “to provide guidance” on the use of the recount funds, so it was dismissing the complaint against the RNC “as a matter of prosecutorial discretion.”
The 2018 complaint also made campaign finance allegations against that Trump’s presidential campaign for its spending on legal representation for the campaign in DOJ and congressional Russia investigations.
The commission’s review of the RNC and campaign’s spending was based on various news stories documenting expenditures to lawyers representing the Trump campaign, Trump in his personal capacity and others in Trump’s circle.
According to federal campaign finance records since 2017, Trump’s Make America Great Again Committee and Victory committee transferred nearly $28 million to the RNC related to the legal proceedings account. The RNC paid out more than $37 million on legal services in the same time frame, to dozens of different law firms in more than 30 states.
Some of them would have done legal work unrelated to the Russia investigation, such as typical campaign and redistricting legal work — though millions of dollars of the payments went to the high-end white collar defense law firms that represented major witnesses connected to Trump in the Russia probe.
Katelyn Polantz contributed reporting to this story.