Aug 26, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Trump allies face ruinous cash squeeze after Georgia indictment

Rudy Giuliani arrives at the U.S. District Court on May 19 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Over a dozen of former President Trump's close allies face growing legal bills when he's least able to help — and they're turning to desperate measures to raise money for their fights.

Why it matters: Trump's co-defendants in the Fulton County case each need legal teams that could cost well into the six figures.

  • "Even if you do some back-of-the envelope accounting, I'd think each motion filed is going to cost a defendant in the five figures minimum," Caren Morrison, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and an associate professor of law at Georgia State University, wrote in an email to Axios.
  • "I don't see anyone's fee less than $250,000-500,000" unless they strike a plea deal with prosecutors, Cornell Law School adjunct professor Randy Zelin told Axios.

Between the lines: Trump is notoriously stingy in using his own money to front legal fees and he's resisted dipping into his own funds to support even his closest allies.

  • Former Trump ally Michael Cohen sued in 2019, alleging that he entered an agreement with the Trump Organization that it would pay for his representation and defense for various investigations.
  • Cohen said that the organization stopped paying his legal expenses after he started cooperating in probes into the former president and the organization's business practices.

Trump also snubbed associates who were central to his efforts to overturn 2020 election results by not paying them for their work, CNBC reported.

  • Ex-Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces "financial difficulties," his attorneys wrote in a filing earlier this month in a civil defamation case.
  • Giuliani was charged along with Trump and 17 others in Georgia for alleged efforts to subvert 2020 election results.
  • After urging from Giuliani himself and his son for financial support, Trump is now scheduled to attend a $100,000 per person fundraiser for Giuliani at the former president's club in Bedminster, N.J., per the New York Times.

Zoom in: Some co-defendants are turning to crowdfunding.

Jenna Ellis, a former Trump lawyer, wrote in a post on "X" that she "was reliably informed Trump isn't funding any of us who are indicted."

  • Ellis, who represented Trump during and after the 2020 presidential election, has faced the wrath of some Trump supporters after she's signaled support for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
  • As of Friday afternoon, she had received more than $161,000 in donations, according to a GiveSendGo page.

Cathy Latham, another co-defendant who is a former Republican Party chair of Coffee County, Georgia, wrote on a crowdfunding page that she is a "retired public school teacher living on a teacher's pension."

  • "I am asking for your help today to help me cover legal fees during this time." She'd raised nearly $7,000 as of Friday afternoon, well short of her $100,000 goal.

Two other Trump co-defendants, John Eastman and Jeffrey Clark, launched crowdfunding pages to support their legal defense fund after the 2020 presidential election.

The bottom line: Michael Caputo, who was a witness in the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, warned that the co-defendants risk expenses that could cause them to "lose their homes, pull their kids out of schools, delay medical care."

  • "I spent $300K+ on lawyers in the Clinton Russia Hoax. I was just a witness," he wrote on the social media platform, "X."

A spokesperson for Trump did not respond to Axios' request for comment.

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