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PAC that pays Trump’s legal bills gets priority over donations to RNC at upcoming high-dollar fundraiser

The joint fundraising agreement that Donald Trump has inked with the Republican National Committee and state parties first sends donors’ money to his campaign committee and then to the leadership PAC that pays his legal bills before the national party gets its share, an invitation to an upcoming fundraiser shows.

The invite to a high-dollar event in Palm Beach, Florida, next month shows Trump’s campaign receiving the first $6,600 in donations – the maximum amount that a candidate can receive from an individual donor for the primary and general campaign. The next $5,000 goes to Save America, which has paid tens of millions of dollars in legal bills for the former president and his allies in recent years.

The RNC, which has faced a cash crunch heading into the election year, is third in line for contributions and is slated to receive the next $413,000, according to the invitation to the April 6 “Inaugural Leadership Dinner,”which has attracted an array of wealthy Republicans.

The fundraising arrangement increases the odds of donors’ money continuing to help underwrite Trump’s mounting legal expenses.

Trump’s campaign spokesman Steven Cheung defended the arrangement, saying the PAC also “covers a very active and robust post-Presidency office and other various expenses” not related to Trump’s legal issues, which he characterized as “illegal witch-hunts.”

“The Trump campaign, the RNC, and state GOP parties ultimately receive the overwhelming majority of funds raised through the Trump 47 Committee,” he added, saying that less than 1% of an individual donor’s maximum contribution would benefit Save America.

Save America, the leadership PAC that Trump has used as the main vehicle for paying his mounting legal bills, has spent more than $72.5 million on legal expenses since January 1, 2021, federal election records show.

In February alone, Save America plowed nearly $5.6 million into legal costs, largely related to Trump and his allies, surpassing the money the committee took in last month. And his expenses are expected to grow as trial dates approach.

Trump faces 88 criminal charges across four indictments and a looming deadline to fulfill a half-a-billion-dollar civil fraud judgment in New York.

The Associated Press first reported on the sequence of donations. Earlier this week, CNN reported about the fundraiser and that Save America was slated to get a $5,000 share of the money raised at the Florida event.

The maximum an individual can donate to the joint fundraising committee – $814,600 per person – is the top ticket price for the April dinner. Perks for contributors at that level include dining at Trump’s table, according to the invitation.

Although Trump is the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, he can raise funds designated for the primary until he is formally nominated at his party’s convention.

CNN’s Alayna Treene, Kristen Holmes, David Wright and Alex Leeds Matthews contributed to this report.

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