Could Donald Trump's legal expenses complicate his campaign?

Could Donald Trump's legal expenses complicate his campaign?

Organizations raising money to support him have already paid more than $50 million in legal fees in several cases targeting him. A lot of money that is not used for election campaigns.

A few days of rest for Donald Trump. On Monday, March 25, the New York State Court of Appeals agreed to reduce the amount of bail he must pay as part of a civil proceeding to $175 million (more than 160 million euros). The billionaire initially had to pay $454 million in fines and interest (just under €420 million) before the end of the day on Monday. This is the amount that he was unable to collect, according to his lawyer. Ultimately, judges gave him another ten days to pay a lower bail, pending an appeal decision on his conviction.

“I will deposit $175 million in cash, bonds, stocks or whatever is necessary, very quickly, within ten days.”Donald Trump promised on Monday. If the future Republican presidential nominee finds himself unable to pay, he will “It will damage the reputation he has built for years.”According to estimates by Françoise Coste, Jean Jaurès, professor of American studies at the University of Toulouse. New York Attorney General Letitia James could then seize real estate assets and freeze the bank accounts of the billionaire and his two sons, who are also convicted in this case. “Politically, the consequences of non-payment may lose their appeal.”Academic analysis:

“The argument that he is a business genius capable of running the country efficiently, with the same success he has had in the business world, will be difficult to sustain.”

Françoise Coste, Professor of American Studies

In France Info

Over the years, the billionaire has actually cultivated the image of a successful businessman, at the head of a real estate empire. “The fact that he couldn't pay the initial amount [de 454 millions de dollars] Proves that he is not as rich as he claims., says Françoise Coste. The irony of the situation: Donald Trump received this heavy fine because he exaggerated the income of his companies for years. “His personal financial situation is much more fragile than he admits.”The academic insists.

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Millions of dollars in legal costs

Could Donald Trump's financial problems threaten his chances of returning to the White House? It's not just a matter of image. In a country where presidential campaigns require lavish spending (both Republicans and Joe Biden spent $1.3 billion in 2020), money is a hot topic. The billionaire, who could appear in several trials between now and the November election, has already relied heavily on campaign funds to fund his legal costs.

This is why Donald Trump used the money he raised sPolitical action committees (PACs), which are structures responsible for receiving donations from individuals and companies willing to support a candidate. These organizations “Used to fund candidate communications and events, but separate from the campaign committee.”explains Ludivine Gili, historian and director of the North American Observatory at the Jean Jaurès Foundation. According to official documents submitted to the US Election Commission, two political action committees spent more than $50 million in 2023 to pay the billionaire's legal fees, according to the British newspaper The Guardian. guardian. Which “Highlights the incredible amount of money Donald Trump has raised that has been redirected from his presidential campaign to his legal battles.”“, notes the British daily newspaper.

“Political action committees declare how they spend their money, but they can pretty much do with it what they want. They have little oversight.”

Ludivine Gilly, a historian specializing in the United States

In France Info

Some critics have questioned the possibility of Donald Trump paying his legal costs in this way, but, “So far, no one has challenged [cette pratique] In justice”Ludivine Gilly follows up. These amounts are used in particular to pay the fees of lawyers advising the former president in the two cases in which he is accused, in Washington and Georgia, of trying to influence the results of the 2020 presidential elections.

The Republican can still count on his donors

Donald Trump's opponents also question his ability to continue the entire campaign with dwindling reserves. At the beginning of February, his former opponent in the Republican primary, Nikki Haley, said this On the social network It doesn't do that “Joe Biden can't be beat if he spends all his time and money on legal cases.”.

It's true that the billionaire currently lags far behind the Democratic president in terms of available funds. As of early March, Joe Biden's campaign had $71 million in cash, according to reports CBS. Donald Trump's committee only had $33.5 million available. Most of the expenses incurred by the Democratic candidate's team were used to fund his travel, campaign sites and staff hiring. Whereas since the beginning of 2024, her Republican opponent's campaign and the political action committees that support her have had to spend a lot of money. CBS reports an additional $10 million in legal costs.

Donald Trump is also lagging behind in terms of fundraising. according to Washington PostHis campaign raised $15.9 million in contributions in February, compared to $53 million for Joe Biden. “It's still very early [dans la course à la Maison Blanche]“These amounts will increase between now and November.”Françoise Coste confirms. The billionaire has “There is still room“, says Ludivine Gilly. It is possible that there will be a negative impact of legal costs on Donald Trump's campaign, but so far this impact will be fairly marginal.She rules.

“The problem will arise if the money runs out, but Republicans currently have millions of dollars, and Donald Trump is likely to attract new donors.”

Ludivine Gilly, a historian specializing in the United States

In France Info

Donald Trump can also count on his daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, recently reaching second place in the Republican Party. according to POLITICOHis election should result in this “Merging Operations between the Trump Campaign and the Republican National Committee”. Lara Trump will organize a fundraiser with the express goal of helping her father-in-law. Françoise Coste confirms. “We have reached a kind of merger between the Republican Party and the Trump family, all for the financial benefit of the former president.”

The billionaire continues to assert that the trials against him and the large sum demanded from him by the New York justice system are aimed at hindering his campaign. “He says we're trying to 'destroy him,' but instead his campaign and political action committees are helping him cover his personal expenses.” Ludivine Guille points out. The historian notes that if the businessman had invested part of his personal wealth in his campaign for the presidential elections in 2016, this is no longer the case today. Moreover, money does not guarantee success, he notes the world. Eight years ago, Donald Trump managed to ascend to the White House by spending half what his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, spent.

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