Even as damning new details continue to spill out, the Trump administration has tried to portray the now-infamous June 9, 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a cast of shady Russian and American characters as a totally standard affair — or “nothingburger,” in the unmemorable words of Reince Priebus. But well before the New York Times broke the story of the unusual gathering, someone at the White House was worried enough to start paying the man who now represents the president’s oldest son.
New Federal Election Commission filings show that President Trump’s reelection campaign began compensating Donald Trump Jr.’s attorney, Alan Futerfas, on June 26, 2017, two weeks before the Times published its initial article on the matter. It’s unclear, however, whether Futerfas’s work was related to the Russia investigation prior to taking on Don Jr. as a client.
The payment of $50,000 was a small portion of the campaign’s reported legal expenditures, which cover April to June of this year. Other payments include half a million dollars to longtime Trump law firm Jones Day and, somewhat strangely, $90,000 to the Trump Corporation itself. All in all, the Daily Beast reports, 15 percent of the Trump campaign’s $4.3 million in spending between April and June was burned on legal fees.
While we don’t know when the Times’ reporting forced Don Jr. to retain counsel, the fact that a lawyer may have been advising him before last week makes his initial public statement on the matter, drafted on Air Force One by presidential advisers, all the more baffling. Its almost comical falseness has since created a mounting set of problems for the presidential scion.
This post has been updated to reflect the possibility that the campaign paid Futerfas for legal work unrelated to Trump Jr.