D.N.C. Helped Pay Biden’s Legal Bills in Special Counsel Investigation


Even as some of President Biden’s top campaign officials were attacking Donald J. Trump’s campaign for soliciting donations to pay his legal fees, the Biden-aligned Democratic National Committee was helping pay for lawyers in the special counsel investigation into Mr. Biden’s handling of classified documents.

The D.N.C. has directed at least $1.7 million to lawyers since July to cover the president’s representation in the documents inquiry, a figure that pales in comparison to Mr. Trump’s use of supporters’ donations to pay his hefty legal fees. The former president has spent more than $100 million on legal bills since leaving office, relying almost entirely on donations.

Federal Election Commission records show that since the investigation began last year, the D.N.C. has paid $1.05 million to Bob Bauer, the president’s lawyer. The party committee has also paid $905,000 to Hemenway & Barnes, a Boston firm that employs Jennifer Miller, a lawyer whom the special counsel’s report identified as a “personal counsel for Mr. Biden.”

The party’s payments to cover Mr. Biden’s lawyers — first reported by Axios on Friday — are roughly in line with amounts donors spent to pay for legal defenses for President Barack Obama during his first term.

The Biden campaign has repeatedly amplified the Trump campaign’s use of donor money to pay the former president’s legal bills in his four criminal cases.

As recently as last weekend, top Biden campaign officials celebrated their fund-raising prowess with jabs at Mr. Trump for asking donors to subsidize his lawyers.

Every single dime that you give to the Biden-Harris re-election campaign, we spend talking to voters,” Rufus Gifford, the campaign’s finance chairman, said during a Saturday interview on MSNBC. “We are not spending money on legal bills.”

In an April 5 interview with The New York Times, Jeffrey Katzenberg, the Hollywood mogul who is a Biden campaign co-chairman, also brought up how Mr. Trump is paying his legal fees.

“I’ll take our hand that we are playing, as opposed to hosting a bunch of fat-cat billionaires hanging out at Mar-a-Lago, plotting how to pay his legal bills and buy political favor,” Mr. Katzenberg said as he discussed the Biden operation’s fund-raising in March, when the campaign, together with the D.N.C. and affiliated committees, brought in $90 million.

Mr. Gifford and a representative for Mr. Katzenberg did not respond to messages on Friday morning.

Kevin Munoz, a Biden campaign spokesman, said the Biden campaign used money raised from its small-dollar solicitations to spread its message directly to voters. “That’s a stark contrast to Trump, who is begging retirees and hard-working Americans to pay off his legal fees,” he said.

Officials with the Biden campaign and the D.N.C. sought to draw a distinction between money raised from small donors to the Biden campaign and the typically larger contributions to the party committee, which was the vehicle used to pay Mr. Biden’s personal legal fees.

“The D.N.C. does not spend a single penny of grass-roots donors’ money on legal bills, unlike Donald Trump, who actively solicits legal fees from his supporters and has drawn down every bank account he can get his hands on like a personal piggy bank,” said Alex Floyd, a D.N.C. spokesman.

Officials with the Biden campaign and the D.N.C. have for nearly a year made no distinction between the organizations when boasting about their fund-raising. In numerous instances — such as when Mr. Biden’s team raised $25 million at a single event with former President Bill Clinton and Mr. Obama — they have cast the campaign, the party and its affiliated committees as a single “Team Biden-Harris” to create a more impressive overall fund-raising total.



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