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Donald Trump paid more than $2.3 million in donor money to law firms helping Ivanka Trump with her legal problems last year

Ivanka Trump smiling as she walks next to a security officer.
Ivanka Trump after testifying in the New York Attorney General's civil fraud trial against her family and the Trump Organization.Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • A political action group controlled by Donald Trump paid millions to law firms representing Ivanka Trump.

  • Two firms representing her in the Trump Organization civil fraud trial got $2.3 million last year.

  • Another law firm repping Trump family members got more than $5 million.

A political action group controlled by Donald Trump has spent millions of dollars on law firms representing his adult children for their personal legal problems.

The Save America PAC spent a combined $2.3 million in 2023 for two law firms that represented Ivanka Trump, his elder daughter, according to a Business Insider review of Federal Election Commission records.

The PAC spent an additional $5.3 million on the law firm Robert & Robert, which represented his three eldest children — Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump Jr. — as well as the Trump Organization in an array of lawsuits that have no apparent relation to Trump's campaign to retake the presidency in the 2024 election.

Trump founded Save America shortly after he lost the 2020 presidential election. He's used it as is primary fundraising vehicle, often sending out messages making false claims about the 2020 election and his legal problems to convince donors to give it money.

Much of the PAC's expenses go to legal fees, with Trump battling criminal indictments and civil lawsuits over his attempts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, claims of sexual misconduct and defamation, and allegations of financial misconduct through his company, as well as suing media organizations for what he claims is unfair coverage.

Robert Maguire, the research director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a campaign-finance watchdog organization, said Trump had deceived Save America's donors for years.

"In 2020, he raised tens of millions of dollars for the PAC by making baseless claims of a stolen election and casting the PAC as an 'Official Election Defense Fund,'" Maguire told Business Insider. "Since then, the committee has largely become a vehicle for paying his, his family's, and his associates' legal bills while also channeling tens of millions to a pro-Trump super PAC."

In 2023, Save America disbursed a total of $1,303,667.11 to the law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders and $1,042,479 to the firm Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel, & Frederick.

Both firms represented Ivanka Trump in New York Attorney General Letitia James' sprawling lawsuit against the Trump Organization, Donald Trump, his three eldest children, and several executives over its finances. The attorney general's office alleged that the firm misrepresented its finances to obtain favorable tax, bank-loan, and insurance rates.

The law firms appear to have done a good job. In June of last year, a New York state appeals court dismissed Ivanka Trump as a defendant in the suit, ruling that the claims involving her were beyond the statute of limitations for the allegations.

The two law firms appear to have worked exclusively for Ivanka Trump

Beginning in September 2022, Ivanka was represented by Michael K. Kellogg of the Washington, DC, Kellogg Hansen firm, court records show, with his colleague Reid M. Figel joining in January 2023. Clifford S. Robert and Michael Farina of Robert & Robert served as their local counsel while also defending Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in the litigation.

In court filings, Figel argued Ivanka ought to be treated differently from her siblings and father because she stopped working at the Trump Organization in 2017.

"Ms. Trump's factual and legal defenses are unique, both because the legal theory and factual allegations made against her are different, and because she left the company in January, 2017," Farina wrote in a March 2023 filing.

Kellogg and Figel withdrew from representing Ivanka Trump the following month as the case moved closer to trial.

ivanka trump nyag case
Ivanka Trump arriving at the New York State Supreme Court after a break to testify as a witness in former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial.Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Shortly afterward, the Troutman Pepper attorney Bennet J. Moskowitz, who previously represented Jeffrey Epstein's estate executors in litigation from rape accusers, joined the court docket as a lawyer representing Ivanka Trump.

His colleague Ketan D. Bhirud joined Ivanka Trump's team in June, the same month she was removed as a defendant in the lawsuit.

Even though Ivanka would no longer be a defendant, the New York attorney general's office wasn't done with her.

The office still wanted her to appear in the case as a witness and even cited her lawyers "being paid by Mr. Trump's Save America PAC along with the other Defendants" as a reason she should be forced to testify, according to emails later included in a court exhibit.

"Hope you are doing well and I am sure you are excited to hear from us again," a member of the office wrote to Moskowitz in a September email. "We wanted to let you know that we are including Ivanka on the preliminary trial witness list we are sending over to Defendants this evening."

ivanka trump arthur engoron
Ivanka Trump speaks on the witness stand during the Trump Organization civil fraud trial before Judge Arthur Engoron in New York State Supreme Court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., November 8, 2023 in this courtroom sketch.REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

In October, after the trial began, Moskowitz tried to quash the trial subpoena, arguing it was beyond the court's jurisdiction and wasn't served properly. He also argued that, as a Florida resident with three kids in school, it would be too cumbersome for her to be in New York for testimony.

"Ms. Trump, who resides in Florida with her three minor children, will suffer undue hardship if a stay is denied and she is required to testify at trial in New York in the middle of a school week," Moskowitz wrote in a filing.

The arguments didn't work. Ivanka Trump testified in the trial on November 8.

She appeared to have a hazy memory, often answering with "I don't recall" or "I don't remember" to questions about loans she may have worked on.

The trial officially concluded with closing arguments in January, with a decision from New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron expected later this month.

Trump's PACs spent more than $50 million on legal costs

When Moskowitz — a New York attorney — stepped into the case in April, Robert stopped representing Ivanka Trump but continued to represent her two brothers.

Neither Kellogg, Farina, Moskowitz, nor Bhirud responded to a request for comment from BI. BI could not identify any Trump-linked cases they worked on other than representing Ivanka Trump in the New York attorney general's lawsuit.

Robert's firm, however, has been more deeply involved in Trump's personal legal problems.

He also represented Trump in a now-dismissed lawsuit over the Trump Organization's involvement in a multi-level marketing company and a case from Michael Cohen over unpaid legal bills, which was settled in mid-2023.

ivanka trump jared kushner
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen arriving for the funeral of Amalija Knavs on January 18, 2024 in Palm Beach, Florida.MEGA/GC Images/Getty Images

Robert & Robert received a total of $5,288,756.36 from Save America — more than any other law firm or individual attorney, according to a Business Insider review of the FEC records.

Clifford S. Robert didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The legal costs for law firms representing Ivanka Trump are just a sliver of the more than $50 million that Save America and the MAGA PAC, another political group controlled by her father, spent on legal costs. Representatives for the PACs didn't respond to Business requests for comment from BI.

It's not clear why Trump's political donors would have paid for Ivanka Trump's representations in the case. Ethics filings indicate that she and her husband, Jared Kushner, had a net worth of about $1 billion during the Trump presidency, and a financial firm founded by Kushner has raised billions of dollars more after Trump left office. Ivanka Trump didn't respond to a request for comment.

Maguire, the CREW research director, said the FEC's Republican commissioners had refused to take action against alleged PAC spending violations.

"The FEC's Republican commissioners have voted against every single instance where the agency's own nonpartisan lawyers have found reason to believe Trump or his committees committed violations," he said.

Correction: February 7, 2024 — An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the Troutman Pepper attorney who represented Ivanka Trump. It's Bennet J. Moskowitz, not Bennett S. Moskowitz.

Read the original article on Business Insider