- Thomson Reuters
President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign made a $50,000 payment in June to the Law Offices of Alan S. Futerfas, the lawyer now representing Donald Trump Jr. in ongoing investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible role in it.
The payment was made more than a week before revelations that Trump Jr. had met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with strong ties to the Kremlin, during the campaign last year.
Trump initially denied knowledge of the meeting between Trump Jr. and Veselnitskaya. It soon emerged, however, that Trump had signed off on Trump Jr.’s first statement in response to the New York Times’ initial report about the meeting. The statement eventually had to be amended several times when new details about the meeting continued to spill out.
The day after the first story detailing the meeting, it was reported that Trump Jr. had accepted the meeting to obtain damaging information about then-candidate Hillary Clinton. Later, according to emails Trump Jr. posted to Twitter and the Times published, it emerged that Trump Jr. was told ahead of time that the meeting was part of “Russia and its government’s support of Mr. Trump.”
The payment to Futerfas, dated June 27, was disclosed in a filing with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday. It was described as covering “legal consulting” fees. Futerfas was announced as Trump Jr.’s lawyer on Monday after the Times first disclosed the meeting.
Spokesmen for Trump’s re-election campaign and Futerfas could not be immediately reached for comment.
In the last two days, it has also been confirmed that there were several other people present at the June meeting whose names were not originally disclosed. Initially, Trump Jr. said that he, Veselnitskaya, brother-in-law Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and British music publicist Rob Goldstone were at the meeting.
Later in the week, however, it emerged that multiple others were present, including former Soviet military intelligence officer Rinat Akhmetshin and Russian translator Anatoli Samachornov. CNN also reported on Friday that a representative of Emin and Aras Agalarov, the Russian family who asked Goldstone to arrange the meeting, may have been there.
Separately, the campaign also paid Jones Day, the law firm that represented Trump’s campaign during the election.
The campaign also paid $89,561 to The Trump Corporation for “legal consulting.” The company, owned by the president, is not a law firm. The payment was dated June 30th.
In the second quarter of 2017, Trump’s re-election campaign raised about $8 million and spent $4.4 million.
Trump filed for re-election the day after taking office – allowing his campaign to continue to raise and spend money while he is in office.
The Federal Election Commission has previously ruled that candidates and federal office holders may spend campaign funds on legal fees that are part of legal actions that would not have been necessary if they were not a candidate.
Trump has also hired outside counsel being led Marc Kasowitz. His campaign finance disclosure did not list any payments to Kasowitz.
There are currently two congressional investigations and an FBI counterintelligence investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller examining Russia’s election interference. Moscow has denied the charges against it, and Trump and his associates have denied colluding with Russia.