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The Hill
The Hill
17 Feb 2024
Lauren Irwin

NextImg:Asa Hutchinson: RNC leader should have to pledge not to pay Trump legal fees

Former Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R-Ark.) argued that the leader of the Republican National Committee (RNC) should pledge not to pay former President Trump’s legal fees, as concerns rise over how the former president will fund his mounting bills.

“No one should be leader of RNC unless they pledge not to use its limited resources to pay legal fees and judgements of Donald Trump,” Hutchinson, who suspended his White House bid against Trump last month, posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Hutchinson’s comments come after a New York judge ordered Trump to pay more than $355 million for conspiring to alter his net worth and the value of of his assets to receive tax and insurance benefits. He is also facing an $83.3 million fine for defaming columnist E. Jean Carroll after he repeatedly denied he sexually abused her — even after being found liable.

Recent federal election filings found that Trump’s fundraising committees spent nearly $30 million on the GOP front-runner’s legal fees during the second half of 2023.

Many Republicans have raised concerns that Trump would try to use the RNC to fund his expansive web of legal fees, particularly after he endorsed Michael Whatley — the head of the North Carolina GOP — and Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, to head the committee.

Their worry follows an interview this week where Lara Trump said if she’s appointed as co-chair, she would spend “every single penny” of the RNC’s money to help reelect her father-in-law.

The former president’s fortune, which he rode to fame, could take a massive hit after the two recent verdicts. With his combined penalties he owes over $500 million and could lose 16 to 19 percent or more of his estimated net worth — if he is worth the $2.6 to $3.1 billion that estimators say he is.

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley, the only remaining challenger to Trump in the GOP contest, also voiced her anxiety. In an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Haley said, after Trump’s endorsement to the RNC, he would continue to try to use the RNC as his “legal defense fund.”

She doesn’t want to see the RNC become “his piggy bank” since the organization is already “practically broke.”

“I don’t want the RNC to become his piggy bank for his personal court cases,” she said.